Parathyroid hormone (PTH) Regulation of Metabolic Homeostasis: An Old Dog Teaches Us New Tricks

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Molecular metabolism


BACKGROUND: Late in the nineteenth century, it was theorized that a circulating product produced by the parathyroid glands could negatively impact skeletal homeostasis. A century later, intermittent administration of that protein, namely parathyroid hormone (PTH), was approved by the FDA and EMA as the first anabolic agent to treat osteoporosis. Yet, several unanswered but important questions remain about the skeletal actions of PTH. SCOPE OF REVIEW: Current research efforts have focused on improving the efficacy of PTH treatment by designing structural analogs and identifying other targets (e.g., the PTH or the calcium sensing receptor). A unique but only recently described aspect of PTH action is its regulation of cellular bioenergetics and metabolism, namely in bone and adipose tissue but also in other tissues. The current review aims to provide a brief background on PTH's previously described actions on bone and highlights how PTH regulates osteoblast bioenergetics, contributing to greater bone formation. It will also shed light on how PTH could alter metabolic homeostasis through its actions in other cells and tissues, thereby impacting the skeleton in a cell non-autonomous manner. MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: PTH administration enhances bone formation by targeting the osteoblast through transcriptional changes in several pathways; the most prominent is via adenyl cyclase and PKA. PTH and its related protein, PTHrP, also induce glycolysis and fatty acid oxidation in bone cells and drive lipolysis and thermogenic programming in adipocytes; the latter may indirectly but positively influence skeletal metabolism. While much work remains, alterations in cellular metabolism may also provide a novel mechanism related to PTH's temporal actions. Thus, the bioenergetic impact of PTH can be considered another of the myriad anabolic effects of PTH on the skeleton. Just as importantly from a translational perspective, the non-skeletal metabolic effects may lead to a better understanding of whole-body homeostasis along with new and improved therapies to treat musculoskeletal conditions.

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