In order to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the dynamic changes in bone metabolism and bone quality after parathyroidectomy (PTX) in secondary hyperparathyroid patients with high levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), we performed bone histomorphometric analysis with tetracycline labeling in iliac bone biopsy specimens taken before and after PTX, with special attention paid to osteocytes. At 2 to 4 weeks after PTX, PTH concentrations decreased markedly with evident reductions in bone turnover markers. Histomorphometry revealed that at 2 to 4 weeks following PTX, the osteoclast surface decreased to nearly 0%, with a substantial increase in osteoid volume and a reduction in fibrosis volume. Labeling with tetracycline was observed not only at the mineralization front on the bone surface but also around the osteocyte lacunar walls and canaliculi within both the basic multicellular units (BMUs) and bone structural units (BSUs), suggesting that mineralization was taking place along the lacunocanalicular system after PTX. The tetracycline-labeled area was much greater in the BSUs than in the BMUs and at the mineralization front, and the tetracycline labeling in the BSUs was markedly increased after PTX compared with that in the low- and high-PTH control groups without PTX. The osteocyte number was decreased significantly after PTX, concomitant with an increase in the number of empty lacunae and a reduction of lacunar volume. Thus the increased osteocyte death and mineralization around the lacunocanalicular system in association with a rapid decline in PTH may underlie the changes in bone metabolism and quality that occur following PTX.
© 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.