Background: In treating secondary hyperparathyroidism, the target level of serum intact parathyroid hormone (I-PTH) should be three to five times normal to prevent adynamic bone disease. In circulation, there is a non-(1-84) PTH-truncated fragment, likely 7-84, which, in addition to PTH 1-84, is measured by most I-PTH immunoradiometric (IRMA) assays, giving erroneously high I-PTH values. We have developed a new IRMA assay in which the labeled antibody recognizes only the first six amino acids of the PTH molecule. Thus, this new IRMA assay (Whole PTH) measures only the biologically active 1-84 PTH molecule.
Methods: Using this new IRMA assay (Whole PTH) and the Nichols "intact" PTH assay, we compared the ability of each assay to recognize human PTH (hPTH) 1-84 and hPTH 7-84 and examined the percentage of non-1-84 PTH in circulation and in parathyroid glands. Possible antagonistic effects of the 7-84 PTH fragment on the biological activity of 1-84 PTH in rats were also tested.
Results: In 28 uremic patients, PTH values measured with the Nichols assay, representing a combined measurement of both hPTH 1-84 and hPTH 7-84, were 34% higher than with the Whole assay (hPTH 1-84 only); the median PTH was 523 versus 318 pg/mL (P < 0.001). Similar results were found in 14 renal transplant patients. In osteoblast-like cells, ROS 17.2, 1-84 PTH (10-8 mol/L) increased cAMP from 18.1 +/- 1.25 to 738 +/- 4.13 mmol/well. Conversely, the same concentration of 7-84 PTH had no effect. In parathyroidectomized rats fed a calcium-deficient diet, 7-84 PTH was not only biologically inactive, but had antagonistic effects on 1-84 PTH in bone. Plasma calcium was increased (0.65 mg/dL) two hours after 1-84 PTH treatment, while 7-84 PTH had no effect. When 1-84 PTH and 7-84 PTH were given simultaneously in a 1:1 molar ratio, the calcemic response to 1-84 PTH was decreased by 94%. In normal rats, the administration of 1-84 PTH increased renal fractional excretion of phosphate (11.9 to 27.7%, P < 0.001). However, when 1-84 PTH and 7-84 PTH were given simultaneously, the 7-84 PTH decreased the phosphaturic response by 50.2% (P < 0.005). Finally, in surgically excised parathyroid glands from six uremic patients, we found that 44.1% of the total intracellular PTH was the non-PTH (1-84), most likely PTH 7-84.
Conclusion: In patients with chronic renal failure, the presence of high circulating levels of non-1-84 PTH fragments (most likely 7-84 PTH) detected by the "intact" assay and the antagonistic effects of 7-84 PTH on the biological activity of 1-84 PTH explain the need of higher levels of "intact" PTH to prevent adynamic bone disease.