Published March 1, 1986 - More info
Serum bone gamma-carboxyglutamic acid-containing (Gla) protein (sBGP), a sensitive and specific marker of bone turnover, was measured in 25 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism and in 24 patients with bone metastases with or without hypercalcemia. Despite similar levels of hypercalcemia, sBGP was increased in primary hyperparathyroidism (14.2 +/- 9.6 ng/ml, P less than 0.001), was decreased in malignant hypercalcemia (3.1 +/- 2.8 ng/ml, P less than 0.001), and was normal in patients with bone metastases without hypercalcemia (6.6 +/- 2.7 ng/ml). In primary hyperparathyroidism, sBGP was correlated with serum immuno-reactive parathyroid hormone (r = 0.90), calcium (r = 0.73), and with the adenoma weight (r = 0.79). After parathyroidectomy, sBGP slowly returned to normal values within 2-6 mo, suggesting that sBGP reflects increased bone turnover rather than a direct effect of parathyroid hormone on BGP synthesis at the cell level. An iliac crest biopsy was performed in 11 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism and in 9 cancer patients in a noninvaded area. sBGP was significantly correlated with all parameters reflecting bone formation but not with bone resorption. Patients with bone metastases were analyzed according to the presence or the absence of hypercalcemia. In contrast to normocalcemic patients who had normal sBGP, hypercalcemic patients had decreased sBGP (P less than 0.001) and a lower bone formation at the cellular level (P less than 0.05). Thus, biochemical and histological data suggest that an unknown humoral factor might be responsible for this uncoupling between increased resorption and decreased formation. This uncoupling, rather than local release of calcium by the metastatic process, might be responsible for hypercalcemia in patients with bone metastases.