Incidence and pathophysiology of hypercalcemia

Gregory R. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Hypercalcemia occurs for various reasons in patients with malignant diseases. Most of these patients show a relative increase in bone resorption over bone formation. Increased renal tubular calcium reabsorption is also important for maintaining hypercalcemia in the majority of patients. Calcium absorption from the gut is usually decreased. In a few patients, fixed impairment of glomerular filtration contributes to hypercalcemia. Because the pathophysiology of hypercalcemia is heterogeneous, it may be considered as three separate syndromes: the humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy caused by systemic mediators; the hypercalcemia associated with localized osteolytic disease; and the hypercalcemia associated with myeloma and related hematologic malignancies. Increased bone resorption is a key feature in each of these syndromes. In malignant disease, bone resorption is enhanced because osteoclast activity is increased by the production of humoral mediators. These mediators are often produced by the tumor cells but are also produced by normal host cells that have been activated by the presence of the tumor. Some of these mediators of hypercalcemia are systemic factors, but some act only locally. They include parathyroid hormone-related protein, transforming growth factor alpha, lymphotoxin, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1 alpha and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S3-S10
JournalCalcified tissue international
Issue number1 Supplement
StatePublished - Jan 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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