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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Apr 1;302(7):E852-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00503.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Impaired body calcium metabolism with low bone density and compensatory colonic calcium absorption in cecectomized rats.

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Center of Calcium and Bone Research, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


An earlier study reported that cecal calcium absorption contributes less than 10% of total calcium absorbed by the intestine, although the cecum has the highest calcium transport rate compared with other intestinal segments. Thus, the physiological significance of the cecum pertaining to body calcium metabolism remains elusive. Herein, a 4-wk calcium balance study in cecectomized rats revealed an increase in fecal calcium loss with marked decreases in fractional calcium absorption and urinary calcium excretion only in the early days post-operation, suggesting the presence of a compensatory mechanism to minimize intestinal calcium wasting. Further investigation in cecectomized rats showed that active calcium transport was enhanced in the proximal colon but not in the small intestine, whereas passive calcium transport along the whole intestine was unaltered. Since apical exposure to calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) agonists similarly increased proximal colonic calcium transport, activation of apical CaSR in colonic epithelial cells could have been involved in this hyperabsorption. Calcium transporter genes, i.e., TRPV6 and calbindin-D(9k), were also upregulated in proximal colonic epithelial cells. Surprisingly, elevated serum parathyroid hormone levels and hyperphosphatemia were evident in cecectomized rats despite normal plasma calcium levels, suggesting that colonic compensation alone might be insufficient to maintain normocalcemia. Thus, massive bone loss occurred in both cortical and trabecular sites, including lumbar vertebrae, femora, and tibiae. The presence of compensatory colonic calcium hyperabsorption with pervasive osteopenia in cecectomized rats therefore corroborates that the cecum is extremely crucial for body calcium homeostasis.

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