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Martin Almquist, Elin Isaksson, and Naomi Clyne

Renal hyperparathyroidism (rHPT) is a complex and challenging disorder. It develops early in the course of renal failure and is associated with increased risks of fractures, cardiovascular disease and death. It is treated medically, but when medical therapy cannot control the hyperparathyroidism, surgical parathyroidectomy is an option. In this review, we summarize the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and medical treatment; we describe the effects of renal transplantation; and discuss the indications and strategies in parathyroidectomy for rHPT. Renal hyperparathyroidism develops early in renal failure, mainly as a consequence of lower levels of vitamin D, hypocalcemia, diminished excretion of phosphate and inability to activate vitamin D. Treatment consists of supplying vitamin D and reducing phosphate intake. In later stages calcimimetics might be added. RHPT refractory to medical treatment can be managed surgically with parathyroidectomy. Risks of surgery are small but not negligible. Parathyroidectomy should likely not be too radical, especially if the patient is a candidate for future renal transplantation. Subtotal or total parathyroidectomy with autotransplantation are recognized surgical options. Renal transplantation improves rHPT but does not cure it.

Free access

Jessica Svedlund, Elham Barazeghi, Peter Stålberg, Per Hellman, Göran Åkerström, Peyman Björklund, and Gunnar Westin

Primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) resulting from parathyroid tumors is a common endocrine disorder with incompletely understood etiology. In renal failure, secondary hyperparathyroidism (sHPT) occurs with multiple tumor development as a result of calcium and vitamin D regulatory disturbance. The aim of this study was to investigate a potential role of the histone 3 lysine 27 methyltransferase EZH2 in parathyroid tumorigenesis. Parathyroid tumors from patients with pHPT included adenomas and carcinomas. Hyperplastic parathyroid glands from patients with HPT secondary to uremia and normal parathyroid tissue specimens were included in this study. Quantitative RT-PCR, western blotting, bisulfite pyrosequencing, colony formation assay, and RNA interference were used. EZH2 was overexpressed in a subset of the benign and in all malignant parathyroid tumors as determined by quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting analyses. Overexpression was explained by EZH2 gene amplification in a large fraction of tumors. EZH2 depletion by RNA interference inhibited sHPT-1 parathyroid cell line proliferation as determined by tritium–thymidine incorporation and colony formation assays. EZH2 depletion also interfered with the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by increased expression of growth-suppressive AXIN2, a negative regulator of β-catenin stability. Indeed, EZH2 contributed to the total level of aberrantly accumulated transcriptionally active (nonphosphoylated) β-catenin in the parathyroid tumor cells. To our knowledge EZH2 gene amplification presents the first genetic aberration common to parathyroid adenomas, secondary hyperplastic parathyroid glands, and parathyroid carcinomas. This supports the possibility of a common pathway in parathyroid tumor development.

Free access

Yulong Li and William F Simonds

Familial syndromes of hyperparathyroidism, including multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A), and the hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor (HPT-JT), comprise 2–5% of primary hyperparathyroidism cases. Familial syndromes of hyperparathyroidism are also associated with a range of endocrine and nonendocrine tumors, including potential malignancies. Complications of the associated neoplasms are the major causes of morbidities and mortalities in these familial syndromes, e.g., parathyroid carcinoma in HPT-JT syndrome; thymic, bronchial, and enteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in MEN1; and medullary thyroid cancer and pheochromocytoma in MEN2A. Because of the different underlying mechanisms of neoplasia, these familial tumors may have different characteristics compared with their sporadic counterparts. Large-scale clinical trials are frequently lacking due to the rarity of these diseases. With technological advances and the development of new medications, the natural history, diagnosis, and management of these syndromes are also evolving. In this article, we summarize the recent knowledge on endocrine neoplasms in three familial hyperparathyroidism syndromes, with an emphasis on disease characteristics, molecular pathogenesis, recent developments in biochemical and radiological evaluation, and expert opinions on surgical and medical therapies. Because these familial hyperparathyroidism syndromes are associated with a wide variety of tumors in different organs, this review is focused on those endocrine neoplasms with malignant potential.

Restricted access

K W Colston

INTRODUCTION Over the past two decades much has been learned about the metabolism and actions of vitamin D. Considered to be a dietary requirement essential for the prevention of rickets in the early years of this century, it is now clear that vitamin D is normally synthesized in adequate amounts in the skin by the actions of ultraviolet light. An exciting new area of research in the vitamin D field has opened up with the discovery of new target tissues, novel mechanisms of action and the synthesis of new analogues of vitamin D with tissue-selective actions and potential as therapeutic agents in a wide variety of clinical situations. This development has arisen from the realization that, in addition to its classical role as a calciotrophic hormone, the physiologically active metabolite of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), has a wide range of biological effects in haemopoietic and
Free access

N Garcia de la Torre, J A H Wass, and H E Turner

In recent decades, primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) has changed its clinical presentation from a disease with bone and renal involvement to a frequently asymptomatic disorder detected on routine biochemistry. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether patients with untreated mild asymptomatic hyperparathyroidism are at risk for other complications such as increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. There are limited data on the incidence of cardiovascular abnormalities in mild pHPT. However, pHPT has been associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), valvular and myocardial calcifications, impaired vascular reactivity, alterations in cardiac conduction, impaired glucose metabolism, dyslipidaemia, and alterations in body composition. The nature of some of these associations is in question, because cure of pHPT does not lead to improvement of the cardiovascular disorder e.g. hypertension. In contrast, currently available data suggest that LVH, impaired glucose metabolism and dyslipidaemia may improve after surgery and that successful parathyroidectomy could decrease the excess mortality in patients with pHPT due to cardiovascular disease.

Free access

D M Peehl and D Feldman

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in many countries. Premalignant lesions and invasive cancer occur more frequently in the prostate than in any organ other than the skin. Yet, the incidence of clinically detected prostate cancer is much lower than the histopathological incidence. The slow growth of prostate cancer and the low incidence of clinically manifest disease in some geographical locations or racial/ethnic groups suggest that prostate cancer can be controlled, perhaps by dietary factors. Vitamin D and retinoids have emerged as leading candidates both to prevent and to treat prostate cancer. Many of the activities of these compounds, established from epidemiological studies, research with cell culture and animal models, and clinical trials, are consistent with tumor suppressor effects. However, retinoids may have additional tumor enhancer properties that balance or negate anti-cancer activity. This perhaps explains the overall lack of protective effects of vitamin A compounds against prostate cancer found in epidemiological studies, and the minimal efficacy of retinoids in clinical trials to treat prostate cancer. While current efforts focus on developing strategies to use vitamin D compounds to control prostate cancer, the possibility exists that prostate cancer cells may become resistant to tumor suppressor effects of vitamin D. Analyses of experimental model systems show that prostate cancer cells become less sensitive to vitamin D through loss of receptors or signaling molecules that mediate vitamin D's actions, or through changes in metabolic enzymes that synthesize or degrade vitamin D compounds. The potential promise of exploiting vitamin D to control prostate cancer is tempered by the possibility that prostate cancer, perhaps even at early stages, may develop mechanisms to escape tumor suppressor activities of vitamin D and/or retinoids.

Free access

Fábio Pereira, María Jesús Larriba, and Alberto Muñoz

The most active vitamin D metabolite, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), is a pleiotropic hormone with wide regulatory actions. Classically, vitamin D deficiency was known to alter calcium and phosphate metabolism and bone biology. In addition, recent epidemiological and experimental studies support the association of vitamin D deficiency with a large variety of human diseases, and particularly with the high risk of colorectal cancer. By regulating the expression of many genes via several mechanisms, 1,25(OH)2D3 induces differentiation, controls the detoxification metabolism and cell phenotype, sensitises cells to apoptosis and inhibits the proliferation of cultured human colon carcinoma cells. Consistently, 1,25(OH)2D3 and several of its analogues decrease intestinal tumourigenesis in animal models. Molecular, genetic and clinical data in humans are scarce but they suggest that vitamin D is protective against colon cancer. Clearly, the available evidence warrants new, well-designed, large-scale trials to clarify the role of vitamin D in the prevention and/or therapy of this important neoplasia.

Free access

Srilatha Swami, Aruna V Krishnan, Jasmaine Williams, Abhishek Aggarwal, Megan A Albertelli, Ronald L Horst, Brian J Feldman, and David Feldman


Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (BCa), insulin resistance, and vitamin D deficiency, and all contribute to increased synthesis of mammary estrogens, the drivers of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BCa growth. As both dietary vitamin D and calcitriol treatments inhibit breast estrogen synthesis and signaling, we hypothesized that vitamin D would be especially beneficial in mitigating the adverse effects of obesity on ER+BCa. To assess whether obesity exerted adverse effects on BCa growth and whether vitamin D compounds could reduce these unfavorable effects, we employed a diet-induced obesity (DIO) model in ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice. Breast tumor cells originally from syngeneic Mmtv-Wnt1 transgenic mice were then implanted into the mammary fat pads of lean and obese mice. DIO accelerated the initiation and progression of the mammary tumors. Treatments with either calcitriol or dietary vitamin D reduced the adverse effects of obesity causing a delay in tumor appearance and inhibiting continued tumor growth. Beneficial actions of treatments with vitamin D or calcitriol on BCa and surrounding adipose tissue included repressed Esr1, aromatase, and Cox2 expression; decreased tumor-derived estrogen and PGE2; reduced expression of leptin receptors; and increased adiponectin receptors. We demonstrate that vitamin D treatments decreased insulin resistance, reduced leptin, and increased adiponectin signaling and also regulated the LKB1/AMPK pathway contributing to an overall decrease in local estrogen synthesis in the obese mice. We conclude that calcitriol and dietary vitamin D, acting by multiple interrelated pathways, mitigate obesity-enhanced BCa growth in a postmenopausal setting.

Free access

Filomena Cetani, Claudio Marcocci, Liborio Torregrossa, and Elena Pardi

Atypical parathyroid adenomas represent a group of intermediate form of parathyroid neoplasms of uncertain malignant potential which show some atypical histological features that represent a challenge for the differential diagnosis with parathyroid carcinomas. They may occur as sporadic or as a part of hereditary syndromes. The molecular signature of these neoplasms is still unknown and the germline CDC73 mutations appears to be the most common anomaly in this setting suggesting that these cases might represent variants of the hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome. The identification of markers predicting the outcome is of great importance to guide an adequate postoperative monitoring and, the same time, relieve of the anxiety of relatively strict monitoring patients not at risk. This review will summarize the current knowledge of the clinical, biochemical, molecular and histological profile of atypical parathyroid adenomas.

Free access

James Koh, Joyce A Hogue, Sanziana A Roman, Randall P Scheri, Hèléne Fradin, David L Corcoran, and Julie A Sosa

The clinical presentation of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) varies widely, although the underlying mechanistic reasons for this disparity remain unknown. We recently reported that parathyroid tumors can be functionally segregated into two distinct groups on the basis of their relative responsiveness to ambient calcium, and that patients in these groups differ significantly in their likelihood of manifesting bone disability. To examine the molecular basis for this phenotypic variation in PHPT, we compared the global gene expression profiles of calcium-sensitive and calcium-resistant parathyroid tumors. RNAseq and proteomic analysis identified a candidate set of differentially expressed genes highly correlated with calcium-sensing capacity. Subsequent quantitative assessment of the expression levels of these genes in an independent cohort of parathyroid tumors confirmed that calcium-sensitive tumors cluster in a discrete transcriptional profile group. These data indicate that PHPT is not an etiologically monolithic disorder and suggest that divergent molecular mechanisms could drive the observed phenotypic differences in PHPT disease course, provenance, and outcome.