Calcitonin, the forgotten hormone: does it deserve to be forgotten?

Calcitonin is a 32 amino acid hormone secreted by the C-cells of the thyroid gland. Calcitonin has been preserved during the transition from ocean-based life to land dwellers and is phylogenetically older than parathyroid hormone. Calcitonin secretion is stimulated by increases in the serum calcium concentration and calcitonin protects against the development of hypercalcemia. Calcitonin is also stimulated by gastrointestinal hormones such as gastrin. This has led to the unproven hypothesis that postprandial calcitonin stimulation could play a role in the deposition of calcium and phosphate in bone after feeding. However, no bone or other abnormalities have been described in states of calcitonin deficiency or excess except for diarrhea in a few patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma. Calcitonin is known to stimulate renal 1,25 (OH)2 vitamin D (1,25D) production at a site in the proximal tubule different from parathyroid hormone and hypophosphatemia. During pregnancy and lactation, both calcitonin and 1,25D are increased. The increases in calcitonin and 1,25D may be important in the transfer of maternal calcium to the fetus/infant and in the prevention and recovery of maternal bone loss. Calcitonin has an immediate effect on decreasing osteoclast activity and has been used for treatment of hypercalcemia. Recent studies in the calcitonin gene knockout mouse have shown increases in bone mass and bone formation. This last result together with the presence of calcitonin receptors on the osteocyte suggests that calcitonin could possibly affect osteocyte products which affect bone formation. In summary, a precise role for calcitonin remains elusive more than 50 years after its discovery.
AuthorsArnold J Felsenfeld, Barton S Levine
JournalClinical kidney journal (Clin Kidney J) Vol. 8 Issue 2 Pg. 180-7 (Apr 2015) ISSN: 2048-8505 [Print] England
PMID25815174 (Publication Type: Journal Article)

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