Background: The down-regulation of both calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR) in parathyroid (PT) glands of secondary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) caused by chronic renal failure has been associated with PT hormone hypersecretion as well as PT hypergrowth. To clarify the predominance of decreased expression of CaSR and VDR in the high proliferative activity of PT glands, we examined the relationship between the expression of both receptors and proliferative activity in human PT glands.
Methods: Serial sections of 56 PT glands, including 52 glands from secondary HPT and 4 normal PT glands resected together with thyroid carcinoma, were examined immunohistochemically with specific antibodies against CaSR, VDR, and Ki67. The Ki67-positive cell number was counted and expressed as the Ki67 score. The CaSR and VDR expressions were semiquantitatively analyzed.
Results: The expressions of both CaSR and VDR were markedly decreased in PT glands of secondary HPT, while the Ki67 score was significantly higher than it was in normal controls. When hyperplastic glands were classified into two subgroups, with [N(+)] or without [N(-)] nodular formation, CaSR expression was significantly decreased in N(+), while VDR expression was not different. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the decreased expression of CaSR could contribute significantly to the high proliferative activity, even if VDR expression was taken into account.
Conclusion: The decrease in CaSR expression is associated with the high proliferative activity of PT glands in secondary HPT, independently of the decreased VDR expression. These findings provide a new insight into the pathogenesis of PT hyperplasia, which is refractory to vitamin D therapy in patients with severe secondary HPT.