Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare patients with primary hyperparathyroidism with and without nephrolithiasis with regard to (1) biochemical profile, and (2) presence and extent of bone involvement.
Patients and methods: Of 70 unselected patients enrolled in a longitudinal study on the natural history of primary hyperparathyroidism, 62 who underwent complete bone densitometry evaluation were considered. The patients had mild hypercalcemia (2.77 +/- 0.02 mmol/L), as well as elevated parathyroid hormone levels by mid-molecule, N-terminal, and immunoradiometric assays. Bone densitometry was assessed by dual-photon absorptiometry of the lumbar spine and femoral neck, and single-photon absorptiometry of the forearm.
Results: Eleven of the 62 patients (18%) had nephrolithiasis. There was no difference in serum parathyroid hormone levels, calcium, phosphorus, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 between those with and without kidney stones. Total daily urinary calcium excretion was higher among those who formed stones (8.2 +/- 1.0 mmol versus 6.1 +/- 0.4 mmol, p less than 0.05), but not when expressed per mmol of creatinine (0.72 +/- 0.07 versus 0.69 +/- 0.04). Urinary hydroxyproline was also higher in patients who formed stones (58 +/- 11 mg/24 hours versus 37 +/- 2 mg/24 hours; p less than 0.05). Hypercalciuria occurred in 39% of the entire cohort (n = 24), and in 33% (n = 17) of those without stones. Only 29% (n = 7) of those with hypercalciuria had nephrolithiasis. Calcium excretion correlated positively with serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (r = +0.32, p less than 0.05), and negatively with forearm bone mineral density (all patients: r = -0.34, p less than 0.05; hypercalciuric patients: r = -0.53, p less than 0.05). Circulating 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 levels were elevated in a similar proportion of (1) all patients (31%, n = 19); (2) those with nephrolithiasis (27%); and (3) those without stones (31%). Bone mineral density was less than 80% of normal in 61% of patients, but forearm, femoral neck, and lumbar spine density were indistinguishable among those with and without stones.
Conclusions: Cortical bone demineralization occurs to the same extent and frequency in patients with and without nephrolithiasis, and these two subgroups share similar biochemical and bone densitometric profiles. The pathophysiologic events leading to renal and skeletal involvement in primary hyperparathyroidism may be less selective than previously believed, as evidenced by: (1) increased urinary hydroxyproline in patients with nephrolithiasis, and (2) documentation that urinary calcium excretion reflects not only vitamin D status, but bone resorption was well.