Humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy results from the effects of tumor-produced factors on bone, kidney, and intestine that disrupt normal calcium homeostasis. Although parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) is a major mediator of the syndrome, tumors also produce other hypercalcemic factors, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which may modulate the effects of PTHrP. It has been postulated that TNF may counteract the stimulatory effects of PTHrP on bone formation. To examine the effects of TNF on PTHrP-induced changes in calcium and bone metabolism, a murine tumor model of hypercalcemia was used. Nude mice were inoculated with Chinese hamster ovarian (CHO) cells expressing human TNF (CHO/TNF) or nontransfected CHO cells (CHO/-) and further treated with injections of human PTHrP(1–34) or vehicle. The effects of TNF, PTHrP, and the combination of the two factors on blood ionized calcium, osteoclast recruitment, and bone histomorphometry were evaluated. Mice bearing CHO/TNF tumors that were injected with PTHrP had significantly higher calcium concentrations, increased committed osteoclast progenitors, and mature osteoclasts as well as enhanced bone resorption compared with mice bearing CHO/TNF tumors injected with vehicle or those bearing CHO/- tumors injected with PTHrP or vehicle. A 2-fold increase in new woven bone formed in the calvaria at sites of previous bone resorption was observed in CHO/TNF mice treated with PTHrP. Bone formation rates in the vertebrae were similar in both CHO/- and CHO/TNF mice treated with PTHrP. These data demonstrate that the hypercalcemic effects of PTHrP are enhanced by TNF and that this effect is due to the increased production of committed osteoclast precursors with a subsequent increase in osteoclastic bone resorption. Furthermore, PTHrP caused a coupled increase in osteoclastic bone resorption and new bone formation that was not inhibited by TNF. These findings highlight the complex interactions that may occur between tumor-produced factors on bone that result in malignancy-associated hypercalcemia and suggest that TNF may not be responsible for the decreased bone formation seen in some patients with this condition.


This work was supported by Grants AR 01899 and CA 40035 from the NIH.

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