Increased production of PTH-related protein (PTHrP) and PTH is frequently responsible for hypercalcemia and its associated morbidity. However, it is unclear whether these peptides produce identical effects on cells in the osteoclast lineage in vivo. To examine the effects of continuous in vivo exposure to these factors on both the osteoclast precursors and mature osteoclasts, we inoculated Chinese hamster ovarian cells expressing PTH-(1-84), PTHrP-(1-141), or nontransfected Chinese hamster ovarian cells into nude mice. The effects of these tumors on blood ionized calcium, plasma PTH and PTHrP concentrations, and osteoclast formation were then determined. PTH and PTHrP tumor-bearing mice became hypercalcemic (1.90 +/- 0.04 and 1.97 +/- 0.16 mmol/liter, respectively) compared with control mice (1.29 +/- 0.015 mmol/liter). After 4 days of hypercalcemia, mice were killed, and bone marrow cells were harvested to examine cells at three discrete stages of osteoclast development: multipotent osteoclast precursors, the granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming unit; more committed marrow mononuclear osteoclast precursors; and mature osteoclasts. Neither PTH nor PTHrP had an effect on granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming unit, but similarly increased the number of more committed mononuclear osteoclast progenitors as well as mature osteoclasts in the calvaria. No differences were detected between the effects of PTH and PTHrP on cells in the osteoclast lineage in vivo. Thus, PTH and PTHrP appear to affect only more differentiated cells in the osteoclast lineage, and the differences in osteoclastic bone resorption between primary hyperparathyroidism and humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy are probably due to mechanisms other than effects on osteoclast precursor cells in vivo.
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