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Keywords:

  • Atrial fibrillation;
  • digoxin;
  • Klotho;
  • Na-K-ATPase;
  • ouabain;
  • PTH

Abstract

Background

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion is regulated mainly by the calcium sensor receptor. Recently, other components of calcium homoeostasis have been revealed, namely the effect of Klotho on stimulation of PTH secretion by the recruitment of Na-K-ATPase and by its being a cofactor in the inhibitory effect of FGF 23 on PTH secretion. It seems that ouabain, a Na-K-ATPase inhibitor, prevents the increase in PTH secretion in a hypocalcemic environment, as observed in mouse and bovine tissues. We hypothesized that digoxin, which is similar to ouabain in its effect on the sodium pump, might decrease PTH levels in humans.

Methods

Twenty patients with atrial fibrillation were studied. Ten patients were treated with digoxin and the other ten patients with verapamil. Baseline chemistry parameters were determined and 0·25 mg digoxin injected. Plasma PTH concentrations, ionized calcium concentrations and digoxin levels were recorded at 30 min, 1 h, 2 h and 4 h postinjection.

Results

Baseline blood parameters were similar in both groups. In the control group plasma PTH concentrations increased, whereas in the digoxin group, they decreased. Ionized calcium concentrations did not change over time in either groups. There seemed to be blunting of the circadian rhythm of PTH levels in the morning hours.

Conclusions

Although the patients were normocalcemic, plasma PTH concentrations decreased with digoxin treatment. The effect of the sodium pump on PTH secretion might be important in human PTH homoeostasis and might be a potential target for the treatment of disturbances in calcium homoeostasis.