Biochemical evaluation of patients with cancer-associated hypercalcemia: evidence for humoral and nonhumoral groups

N Engl J Med. 1980 Dec 11;303(24):1377-83. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198012113032401.


In 50 consecutive patients with cancer-associated hypercalcemia, we measured nephrogenous cyclic AMP, tubular phosphorus threshold, fasting calcium excretion, plasma 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and immunoreactive parathyroid hormone as determined by four region-specific antiserums. Nephrogenous cyclic AMP excretion was elevated in 41 patients and suppressed in nine (means, 5.85 vs. 0.51 nmol per 100 ml of glomerular filtrate). There was no overlap between these groups. When compared with 15 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, the group with increased cyclic AMP excretion had similar reductions in tubular phosphorus threshold; higher fasting calcium excretion (means, 0.66 vs. 0.25 mg per 100 ml of glomerular filtrate, P < 0.01); marked reductions in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (means, 20 vs. 83 pg per milliliter, P < 0.001); and lower levels of immunoreactive parathyroid hormone in all four assays. The data suggest that elevated excretion of nephrogenous cyclic AMP may be a useful marker of humorally mediated cancer-associated hypercalcemia, that this type of hypercalcemia is common, that the humoral factor responsible for this syndrome is not native 1-84 parathyroid hormone, and that the various subtypes of cancer-associated hypercalcemia are biochemically distinguishable from primary hyperparathyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Calcium / blood
  • Cyclic AMP / classification
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholecalciferols / blood
  • Hypercalcemia / etiology*
  • Hypercalcemia / metabolism
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Parathyroid Hormone / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Prostaglandins / metabolism


  • Hydroxycholecalciferols
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Peptides
  • Prostaglandins
  • Phosphorus
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Calcium