Bones, Stones, Groans and Moans
A Calcium Story
Biological Sciences Department
California State Polytechnic University at Pomona
In this case study, “Amelia” is confused by a call from her doctor’s office about her blood calcium levels. When it comes to calcium, she is familiar with the adage that calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, and so the idea that her blood could contain too much calcium seems absurd. Amelia is asymptomatic, but follow-up visits with her doctor reveal a benign parathyroid gland adenoma that is secreting excess parathyroid hormone. Students are asked to interpret laboratory data and to describe the mechanism underlying parathyroid hormone-dependent hypercalcemia. The case would be appropriate for use in undergraduate courses in human anatomy and physiology, human physiology, animal physiology, or endocrinology. The case could also be used in general biology or medical terminology courses depending on the depth of coverage of the relevant concepts and terms in those courses.
- Recognize that calcium homeostasis is tightly regulated.
- Know that there are four parathyroid glands.
- Describe how calcium circulates in plasma.
- Identify the hormones that regulate calcium homeostasis, their target organs and actions.
- Describe how 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is formed and its relevance to calcium homeostasis.
- Recognize that calcitonin protects the skeleton from excessive resorption during times when plasma Ca2+ is very high.
- Interpret laboratory data and patient symptoms to diagnose a disorder of calcium homeostasis.
KeywordsParathyroid glands; parathyroid hormone; hyperparathyroid; calcium; hypercalcemia; 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D; vitamin D; adenoma; bone; bone resorption; osteoporosis
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected, Discussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Physiology |
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