Calcitonin (also known as thyrocalcitonin) is a 32-amino acid linear polypeptide hormone that is produced in humans primarily by the parafollicular cells (also known as C-cells) of the thyroid, and in many other animals in the ultimobranchial body. It acts to reduce blood calcium (Ca2+), opposing the effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH).
Calcitonin has been found in fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Its importance in humans has not been as well established as its importance in other animals, as its function is usually not significant in the regulation of normal calcium homeostasis. It belongs to the calcitonin-like protein family.
Calcitonin is formed by the proteolytic cleavage of a larger prepropeptide, which is the product of the CALC1 gene. The CALC1 gene belongs to a superfamily of related protein hormone precursors including islet amyloid precursor protein, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and the precursor of adrenomedullin.
The hormone participates in calcium (Ca2+) and phosphorus metabolism. In many ways, calcitonin counteracts parathyroid hormone (PTH).
More specifically, calcitonin lowers blood Ca2+ levels in four ways: Inhibits Ca2+ absorption by the intestines Inhibits osteoclast activity in bones Stimulates osteoblastic activity in bones.  Inhibits renal tubular cell reabsorption of Ca2+ allowing it to be excreted in the urine However, effects of calcitonin that mirror those of PTH include the following: Inhibits phosphate reabsorption by the kidney tubules
In its skeleton-preserving actions, calcitonin protects against calcium loss from skeleton during periods of calcium mobilization, such as pregnancy and, especially, lactation.
Other effects are in preventing postprandial hypercalcemia resulting from absorption of Ca2+. Also, calcitonin inhibits food intake in rats and monkeys, and may have CNS action involving the regulation of feeding and appetite.
almon calcitonin is rapidly absorbed and eliminated. Peak plasma concentrations are attained within the first hour of administration.
Animal studies have shown that calcitonin is primarily metabolised via proteolysis in the kidney following parenteral administration. The metabolites lack the specific biological activity of calcitonin. Bioavailability following subcutaneous and intramuscular injection in humans is high and similar for the two routes of administration (71% and 66%, respectively).
Calcitonin has short absorption and elimination half-lives of 10–15 minutes and 50–80 minutes, respectively. Salmon calcitonin is primarily and almost exclusively degraded in the kidneys, forming pharmacologically inactive fragments of the molecule. Therefore, the metabolic clearance is much lower in patients with end-stage renal failure than in healthy subjects. However, the clinical relevance of this finding is not known. Plasma protein binding is 30% to 40%.
Calcitonin can be used therapeutically for the treatment of hypercalcemia or osteoporosis.
Oral calcitonin may have a chondroprotective role in osteoarthritis (OA), according to data in rats presented in December, 2005, at the 10th World Congress of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) in Boston, Massachusetts. Although calcitonin is a known antiresorptive agent, its disease-modifying effects on chondrocytes and cartilage metabolisms have not been well established until now.
This new study, however, may help to explain how calcitonin affects osteoarthritis. “Calcitonin acts both directly on osteoclasts, resulting in inhibition of bone resorption and following attenuation of subchondral bone turnover, and directly on chondrocytes, attenuating cartilage degradation and stimulating cartilage formation,” says researcher Morten Karsdal, MSC, PhD, of the department of pharmacology at Nordic Bioscience in Herlev, Denmark. “Therefore, calcitonin may be a future efficacious drug for OA.”
Subcutaneous injections of calcitonin in patients suffering from mania resulted in significant decreases in irritability, euphoria and hyperactivity and hence calcitonin holds promise for treating bipolar disorder.  However no further work on this potential application of calcitonin has been reported.
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