There is a lack of substantial data on changes in calciotropic hormones and bone markers in elderly subjects living in North America. Parathyroid hormone (PTH), serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and bone markers (serum osteocalcin and urine N-telopeptide), were measured in 735 Caucasian subjects (235 men and 500 women) aged 65-87 years. There was a significant increase in serum osteocalcin and urine N-telopeptide with age in men, and a significant increase in serum osteocalcin with age in women. Serum PTH and 25(OH)D showed no significant change with age in men or women. After adjusting for age, calcium intake, serum creatinine, season, and weight, mean serum PTH (p = 0.01), serum osteocalcin (p = 0.0001) and 24 h urine N-telopeptide (p = 0.0001) were higher in women than men, and mean serum 25(OH)D (p = 0.0001) and 24 h urine calcium (p = 0.0001) were higher in men than women. Serum PTH was correlated with serum osteocalcin in men and women, r = 0.24, r = 0.17, p <0.001, but not with urine N-telopeptide. Serum PTH was inversely correlated with serum 25(OH)D (r = -0.25, r = -0.34, p <0.001), and positively correlated with serum creatinine (r = 0.14, r = 0.17, p <0.01) in men and women. The prevalence of serum 25(OH)D levels below 12 ng/ml was only 3.3% in females and 0.4% in men. Thus vitamin D deficiency was very uncommon in the U.S.A. compared with Europe. Although mean serum PTH was increased in the elderly, only 4-6% had PTH levels above the normal range. In summary, the increase in serum PTH in the elderly can be explained more by changes in vitamin D status than by declining renal function. These data also show significantly higher (p = 0.001) bone remodeling markers in women.
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