Control of pulsatile and tonic parathyroid hormone secretion by ionized calcium

Claus P. Schmitt, Franz Schaefer, Andreas Bruch, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Heinrich Schmidt-Gayk, Günter Stein, Eberhard Ritz, Otto Mehls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


To investigate the effect of changes in ionized calcium on instantaneous PTH secretion, we examined seven young healthy volunteers by 1-min blood sampling under conditions of normo-, hypo-, and hypercalcemia. After a baseline period of 75 min, ambient ionized calcium was either increased or decreased by 0.2 mmol/L for 105 min by clamped infusion of calcium gluconate or sodium citrate. The characteristics of PTH secretion were analyzed by a deconvolution technique, accounting for subject-specific plasma PTH disappearance half-life, as measured during the first 15 min of calcium infusion (range, 2.04-2.93 min). The process regularity of pulsatile PTH secretion was evaluated by an approximate entropy statistic. Under baseline conditions, 32% of total PTH secretion was released in a pulsatile fashion, with a burst frequency of 6.9 ± 0.8 h-1 and a PTH mass per burst of 2.6 ± 0.9 pmol/L. The remaining 68% of total secretion was attributed to tonic hormone release. During the initial 30 min of induced hypocalcemia, pulsatile secretion increased by 1140%, whereas tonic secretion did not change. The preferential increase in pulsatile PTH secretion was mediated by a combined rise in burst frequency and mass released per burst. During subsequent steady state hypocalcemia, the tonic secretion rate increased (255% of baseline), whereas burst frequency and burst mass decreased (to 103% and 189% of the baseline values), restoring the baseline ratio of tonic to pulsatile PTH secretion. The regularity of PTH release increased during steady state hypocalcemia. During hypercalcemia, tonic secretion, burst mass, and burst frequency decreased by 75%, 82%, and 32%, respectively, and remained constant throughout the clamp period. We conclude that acute hypocalcemia elicits an immediate pulsatile and a delayed tonic secretory response of the parathyroid gland with increased regularity of PTH release. Acute hypercalcemia suppresses both the pulsatile and the tonic component of PTH secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4236-4243
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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