The Role of Parathyroid Hormone in Osteoporosis Treatment

The Role of Parathyroid Hormone in Osteoporosis Treatment

Understanding Osteoporosis and Parathyroid Hormone

Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by a decrease in bone density, which can lead to an increased risk of fractures. In this article, we will explore the role of parathyroid hormone in osteoporosis treatment and discuss how it can help improve bone health.
In order to understand the role of parathyroid hormone in osteoporosis treatment, it's essential to first understand what this hormone is and how it affects our bones. Parathyroid hormone, or PTH, is a hormone produced by the parathyroid glands, which are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. This hormone plays a crucial role in regulating calcium levels in the blood, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones.

The Connection between Parathyroid Hormone and Bone Health

PTH is responsible for maintaining the balance of calcium and phosphorus in our body. When calcium levels in the blood are too low, PTH stimulates the release of calcium from the bones, increasing its concentration in the blood. This process is known as bone resorption. At the same time, PTH also promotes the kidneys to reabsorb calcium, preventing its loss through urine.
While this process is essential for maintaining proper calcium levels in the body, excessive bone resorption can lead to a decrease in bone density and an increased risk of fractures, which is the main characteristic of osteoporosis. Therefore, understanding the role of PTH in bone health is crucial for developing effective treatments for osteoporosis.

Parathyroid Hormone as a Treatment for Osteoporosis

Researchers have discovered that administering synthetic PTH, known as teriparatide, can help stimulate bone formation and increase bone density in people with osteoporosis. Teriparatide is a recombinant form of human parathyroid hormone and is currently approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men at high risk of fractures.
Teriparatide works by stimulating the osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, and increasing the overall bone mass. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of fractures in people with osteoporosis.

How Teriparatide is Administered

Teriparatide is typically administered as a daily subcutaneous injection in the thigh or abdomen. The recommended dosage is 20 micrograms per day, and the treatment duration should not exceed 24 months, as it may increase the risk of developing osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer.
It is essential for patients to receive proper training on how to administer the injections and to follow the recommended dosing schedule to maximize the benefits of teriparatide treatment.

Benefits of Parathyroid Hormone Treatment

Several clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of teriparatide in increasing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures in people with osteoporosis. Some of the benefits of PTH treatment include:
- Increased bone density: Teriparatide has been shown to significantly increase bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, hip, and other skeletal sites.
- Reduced fracture risk: Studies have reported a significant reduction in the risk of vertebral and non-vertebral fractures in patients treated with teriparatide.
- Improved quality of life: By reducing the risk of fractures, PTH treatment can help improve the overall quality of life for people with osteoporosis, allowing them to maintain their independence and engage in daily activities without the constant fear of fractures.

Side Effects of Teriparatide Treatment

As with any medication, there are potential side effects associated with teriparatide treatment. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Injection site reactions: Redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site are common but usually mild and resolve on their own.
- Nausea and dizziness: Some patients may experience mild to moderate nausea and dizziness, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.
- Leg cramps: Muscle cramps in the legs are a less common side effect but can be managed with proper stretching and hydration.
It is essential to discuss any side effects with your healthcare provider, who can help determine if teriparatide is the right treatment option for you.

Who Should Not Use Teriparatide

Teriparatide is not suitable for everyone. People with certain medical conditions or a history of bone cancer should not use this medication. Some of the contraindications for teriparatide treatment include:
- Paget's disease of bone: This is a condition that affects the normal bone remodeling process, leading to enlarged and weakened bones.
- Hypercalcemia: People with high blood calcium levels should not use teriparatide, as it may worsen their condition.
- Severe renal impairment: Teriparatide is not recommended for people with severe kidney problems, as it may increase the risk of hypercalcemia.

Monitoring and Follow-Up during Teriparatide Treatment

It is essential for patients undergoing teriparatide treatment to have regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider. This allows the provider to monitor the patient's progress, assess the effectiveness of the treatment, and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
During these appointments, the healthcare provider may perform a physical examination, review the patient's medical history, and order laboratory tests to monitor blood calcium levels and other parameters related to bone health. By closely monitoring the patient's progress, the healthcare provider can ensure that the treatment is both safe and effective.

Combining Parathyroid Hormone Treatment with Other Osteoporosis Therapies

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend combining teriparatide treatment with other osteoporosis therapies, such as bisphosphonates or denosumab. This combination therapy can help enhance the overall effectiveness of the treatment and further reduce the risk of fractures.
It is crucial for patients to discuss their treatment options with their healthcare provider, who can recommend the most appropriate combination of therapies based on the patient's individual needs and medical history.


In conclusion, parathyroid hormone plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health, and its synthetic form, teriparatide, has shown promising results in the treatment of osteoporosis. By increasing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures, PTH treatment can significantly improve the quality of life for people with osteoporosis. However, it is essential for patients to work closely with their healthcare provider to determine if teriparatide is the right treatment option for them and to closely monitor their progress throughout the treatment process.