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Bone. 2004 Sep;35(3):604-13.

Alteration of noncollagenous bone matrix proteins in distal renal tubular acidosis.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Our previous report on bone histomorphometry in patients with distal renal tubular acidosis (dRTA) revealed decreased bone formation rate (BFR) when compared to healthy subjects. The abnormality improved significantly after alkaline therapy. The modest increase in osteoblastic surface, after correction of metabolic acidosis, could not explain the striking improvement in bone formation, suggesting additional influence of metabolic acidosis on osteoblast function and/or bone matrix mineralization. Osteoblasts and, to a lesser extent, osteoclasts synthesize and secrete bone matrix including type I collagen and various noncollagenous proteins (NCPs). Substantial evidence suggested diverse functions of NCPs related to bone formation, resorption, and mineralization. Metabolic acidosis, through its effect on bone cells, may result in an alteration in the production of NCPs. Our study examined bone histomorphometry with detailed analysis on the mineralization parameters and NCPs expression within the bone matrix of patients with dRTA before and after treatment with alkaline. Seven dRTA patients underwent bone biopsy at their initial diagnosis and again 12 months after alkaline therapy. Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone histomorphometry were obtained at baseline and after the treatment. The expression of NCPs was examined by immunohistochemistry, quantitated by digital image analysis, and reported as a percentage of area of positive staining or mineralized trabecular bone area. Alkaline therapy normalized the low serum phosphate and PTH during acidosis. The reduction in BMD at baseline improved significantly by the treatment. Bone histomorphometry demonstrated the increase in osteoid surface and volume without significant alteration after acidosis correction. In comparison to the normal subjects, osteoid thickness was slightly but insignificantly elevated. Osteoblast and osteoclast populations and their activities were suppressed. The reduction in mineral apposition rate and adjusted apposition rate were observed in conjunction with the prolongation of mineralization lag time. Alkaline therapy improved the mineralization parameters considerably. In addition to the increase in BFR relative osteoblast number after acidosis correction, osteocalcin expression in the bone matrix increased significantly from 16.7% to 22.3%. Six of seven patients had decreased osteopontin expression. In conclusion, the abnormal bone remodeling in dRTA is characterized by low turnover bone disease with some degree of defective mineralization. Alteration of NCPs expression suggested the effect of metabolic acidosis on bone cells. Alkaline therapy increased bone mass through the restoration of bone mineral balance and, perhaps, improved osteoblast function.

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