Calcium homeostasis and hyperparathyroidism: Nephrologic and endocrinologic points of view

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2022 Aug;83(4):237-243. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2022.05.003. Epub 2022 May 19.


Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is a hypercalcemic hormone acting on kidneys, bone and intestine. PTH promotes calcium release from the bone, renal calcium reabsorption and phosphate excretion, and conversion of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D-3. Hyperparathyroidism consists in PTH elevation, which may be adapted (secondary hyperparathyroidism) or non-adapted to calcemia levels (primary hyperparathyroidism, familial hypercalcemia/hypocalciuria, tertiary hyperparathyroidism). Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP) features hypercalcemia and elevated or inappropriate PTH elevation. PHP may be revealed by biological abnormalities such as hypercalcemia and can be accompanied by renal complications (hypercalciuria, nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis) and/or osteoporosis. However, it can also be normocalcemic and calcium loading will be necessary to diagnosis it. The differential diagnosis of PHP is familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH), a dominant autosomal disease implicating a calcium sensing receptor-inactivating mutation. It impairs parathyroid cell sensitivity to calcemia elevation and thus induces excessive PTH stimulation, leading to hypercalcemia. Secondary HP (SHP) consists in PTH elevation secondary to a stimulus that needs to be corrected. 25 OHvitD deficiency, kidney failure, renal hypercalciuria, malabsorption and some drugs can induce SHP. Tertiary HP (THP) consists in autonomous PTH secretion by the parathyroid glands after prolonged stimulation under SHP, of whatever cause. This parathyroid autonomy results from the polyclonal hyperplasia observed in SHP progressing toward monoclonal nodular proliferation, leading to nodular hyperplasia or parathyroid adenoma (or, exceptionally, carcinoma), with reduced expression of CaSR and vitamin D receptor. In patients under dialysis, the frontier between SHP and THP is a matter of debate. This review will focus on the pathophysiology of calcium, diagnosis, and management of hyperparathyroidism.

Keywords: Calcemia; Calcium sensing receptor; Familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia; Hyperparathyroidism; Parathyroid hormone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density Conservation Agents*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypercalcemia* / etiology
  • Hypercalciuria
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary* / complications
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary* / diagnosis
  • Hyperplasia
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / genetics


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • Calcium