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J Clin Invest. 2002 Dec;110(12):1849-57.

Increased bone mass is an unexpected phenotype associated with deletion of the calcitonin gene.

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  • 1Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


Calcitonin (CT) is a known inhibitor of bone resorption. Calcitonin gene-related peptide-alpha (CGRPalpha), produced by alternative RNA processing of the CT/CGRP gene, has no clearly defined role in bone. To better understand the physiologic role of the CT/CGRP gene we created a mouse in which the coding sequences for both CT and CGRPalpha were deleted by homologous recombination. The CT/CGRP(-/-) knockout (KO) mice procreated normally, there were no identifiable developmental defects at birth, and they had normal baseline calcium-related chemistry values. However, KO animals were more responsive to exogenous human parathyroid hormone as evidenced by a greater increase of the serum calcium concentration and urine deoxypyridinoline crosslinks, an effect reversed by CT and mediated by a greater increase in bone resorption than in controls. Surprisingly, KO mice have significantly greater trabecular bone volume and a 1.5- to 2-fold increase in bone formation at 1 and 3 months of age. This effect appears to be mediated by increased bone formation. In addition, KO mice maintain bone mass following ovariectomy, whereas wild-type mice lose approximately one-third of their bone mass over 2 months. These findings argue for dual roles for CT/CGRP gene products: prevention of bone resorption in hypercalcemic states and a regulatory role in bone formation.

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