Background: Hypoparathyroidism is a rare endocrine disorder characterized by hypocalcemia and low or undetectable levels of parathyroid hormone.
Methods: This review is an evidence-based summary of hypoparathyroidism in terms of relevant pathophysiological, clinical, and therapeutic concepts.
Results: Many clinical manifestations of hypoparathyroidism are due to the lack of the physiological actions of parathyroid hormone on its 2 major target organs: the skeleton and the kidney. The skeleton is inactive, accruing bone without remodeling it. The kidneys lose the calcium-conserving actions of parathyroid hormone and, thus, excrete a greater fraction of calcium. Biochemical manifestations, besides hypocalcemia and low or undetectable levels of parathyroid hormone, include hyperphosphatemia and low levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Calcifications in the kidney, brain, and other soft tissues are common. Removal of, or damage to, the parathyroid glands at the time of anterior neck surgery is, by far, the most likely etiology. Autoimmune destruction of the parathyroid glands and other genetic causes represent most of the other etiologies. Conventional treatment with calcium and active vitamin D can maintain the serum calcium level but high doses may be required, adding to the risk of long-term soft tissue calcifications. The advent of replacement therapy with recombinant human PTH(1-84) represents a major step in the therapeutics of this disease.
Conclusions: Advances in our knowledge of hypoparathyroidism have led to greater understanding of the disease itself and our approach to it.
Keywords: calcifications; hypoparathyroidism; parathyroid hormone; parathyroidectomy; vitamin D.
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