Resistance to bone resorbing effects of PTH in black women

J Bone Miner Res. 1997 Jun;12(6):958-66. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.1997.12.6.958.


Black women have a lower incidence of vertebral and hip fractures than white women, possibly due to differences in skeletal and mineral metabolism. One suggested mechanism is that blacks have decreased skeletal sensitivity to parathyroid hormone (PTH). To test this hypothesis, we infused h(1-34)PTH in healthy premenopausal black (n = 15) and white (n = 18) women over 24 h and measured serum and urine indices of bone turnover and calcium metabolism throughout the infusion. At baseline, the mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration was significantly lower in black women (46%). There were also nearly significant trends toward higher PTH and lower urinary calcium and pyridinoline levels in black women. During infusion, there were no racial differences in the mean (1-34)PTH levels achieved or in resultant elevations of serum calcium or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) levels. Endogenous parathyroid suppression (measured by (1-84)PTH levels) was also similar between blacks and whites. There was an initial decline in urinary calcium/creatinine in both groups with a greater reduction in black women early in the infusion period (p < 0.05 at 8 h). Furthermore, blacks had lower levels of urinary calcium/creatinine throughout the infusion (p < 0.05 group difference). Bone formation markers (carboxy-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen and osteocalcin) decreased within 8 h and continued to decline throughout the infusion with no distinguishable racial differences (p < 0.05 time trend for both). The most dramatic difference between black and white women in response to PTH infusion was represented by the bone resorption markers. Three separate metabolites of bone resorption (cross-linked N-telopeptide of type I collagen, cross-linked C-telopeptide of type I collagen, and free pyridinoline) all showed substantially greater elevations in white (mean peak increments 399, 725, and 43%) compared with black women (mean peak increments 317, 369, and 17%) during the infusion (p < 0.05 group differences for all three variables). These data strongly suggest that blacks have decreased skeletal sensitivity to the acute resorptive effects of increased PTH. This finding indicates that calcium homeostasis may be accomplished in blacks (during times of relative calcium deficiency) by greater conservation of calcium from nonskeletal sources (most likely renal) with relative preservation of skeletal tissue. These differences in calcium economy could account, at least in part, for the increased bone mass and lower incidence of osteoporotic fractures in black women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Amino Acids / urine
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Remodeling / drug effects
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Collagen / urine
  • Collagen Type I
  • Drug Resistance
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects
  • Osteogenesis / physiology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / physiology*
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Peptides / urine
  • Procollagen / blood
  • Teriparatide / pharmacology


  • Amino Acids
  • Biomarkers
  • Collagen Type I
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Procollagen
  • collagen type I trimeric cross-linked peptide
  • procollagen type I carboxy terminal peptide
  • Osteocalcin
  • Teriparatide
  • pyridinoline
  • Collagen
  • Calcium