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Kidney Int. 2005 Dec;68(6):2484-96.

Aluminum posttranscriptional regulation of parathyroid hormone synthesis: a role for the calcium-sensing receptor.

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Bone and Mineral Research Unit, Instituto Reina Sofía de Investigación, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain.



Calcium regulates parathyroid hormone (PTH) gene expression by a posttranscriptional mechanism, as well as parathyroid gland growth through the activation of the calcium-sensing receptor. Aluminum decreases both parathyroid cell proliferation and PTH levels by an unknown mechanism.


To investigate the possible role of calcium-sensing receptor in the aluminum-induced PTH inhibition we used human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) cells transiently transfected with the human calcium-sensing receptor. We used a parathyroid gland tissue culture model to investigate whether the effect of aluminum in PTH mRNA was a transcriptional mechanism and also its possible role in calcium-sensing receptor expression.


We found that Al activated the calcium-sensing receptor with higher efficiency than calcium, its biologic ligand. Aluminum inhibited PTH gene expression by a posttranscriptional mechanism, but only when low calcium is present in the medium. Finally, we found that aluminum is also able to decrease calcium-sensing receptor mRNA levels by a posttranscriptional mechanism; however, no effect was observed on calcium-sensing receptor protein.


These findings indicate that aluminum impairs parathyroid function through a calcium-like mechanism due to the lack of specificity of the calcium-sensing receptor. Additionally, aluminum decreases parathyroid calcium-sensing receptor mRNA levels, and the regulatory mechanism was posttranscriptional. These findings demonstrate for the first time a regulatory effect in the calcium-sensing receptor by one of its ligands.

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