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Kidney Int. 2001 Mar;59(3):855-65.

p21(WAF1) and transforming growth factor-alpha mediate dietary phosphate regulation of parathyroid cell growth.

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Renal Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.



The parathyroid (PT) hyperplasia induced by renal failure can be further enhanced by high dietary phosphate (P) or completely abolished by P restriction. To identify potential mechanisms mediating these opposing effects of dietary P on PT growth, this study first focused on p21(WAF1) (p21) because high P reduces while low P enhances serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, whose potent antiproliferative properties result from the induction of p21. In addition to reducing p21, high P-induced PT growth could result from increased PT expression of the growth promoter transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), known to be elevated in hyperplastic and adenomatous human PT glands.


The time course for dietary P regulation of PT expression of TGF-alpha and p21 was assessed for seven days after 5/6 nephrectomy in rats and correlated with the degree of PT hyperplasia and secondary hyperparathyroidism.


In P-restricted 5/6 nephrectomized rats, PT-p21 mRNA and protein increased by day 2, independent of changes in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and remained higher than in the high P counterparts for up to seven days. The PT hyperplasia of the high P group could not be attributed to a reduction of PT-p21 expression from normal control values. Instead, PT-TGF-alpha protein was higher in uremic rats compared with normal controls and increased further with high dietary P intake. PT levels of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), an index of cell mitoses, correlated inversely with p21 and directly with TGF-alpha. Consistent with these findings, PT gland size and serum PT hormone levels, similar in both dietary groups at day 2, were higher in the high P group by day 5. Induction of p21 by low P and of TGF-alpha by high P was specific for the PT glands. Dietary P had no effect either on intestinal growth or p21 or TGF-alpha protein content.


These findings suggest that low P induction of p21 could prevent PT hyperplasia in early uremia, whereas high P enhancement of TGF-alpha may function as an autocrine signal to stimulate growth further.

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