Bone pyrophosphate in uremia and its association with extraosseous calcification.


Alfrey AC, Solomons CC




J Clin Invest


The mean bone pyrophosphate was 0.360 +/- 0.15 mg/g in 8 controls and 1.22 +/- 1.39 mg/g bone in 27 uremic patients (P less than 0.0025). 13 of the 27 uremic patients had bone pyrophosphate levels greater than 2 SD above control values. The ash content of uremic bones with increased pyrophosphate levels (group II) was 56 +/- 9% as compared to 64 +/- 2% in control bones (P less than 0.01) and 60 +/- 7% in uremic bones having normal pyrophosphate levels (P less than 0.1) (group I). The magnesium content of bones in group II was 338 +/- 47 as compared to 211 +/- 13 (P less than 0.0005) in the controls and 294 +/- 73 mmol/kg ash (P less than 0.05) in group I. In group II, but not group I, there was a significant inverse correlation between duration of dialysis and percent bone ash (r = -0.59) (P less than 0.05). A definite relationship existed between elevated bone pyrophosphate levels and soft tissue calcification. In group II the mean pulmonary calcium content was 530 +/- 459 as compared to 32 +/- 26 mmol/kg/ash in group I (P less than 0.0025). All patients with a bone pyrophosphate level greater than 1.4 mg/g bone had extensive pulmonary calcification. It is concluded that the excess bone pyrophosphate present in some uremic patients is either deposited in the apatite crystal in the transphosphorylated form or else as the magnesium salt since the pyrophosphate is resistant to pyrophosphatase and surface adsorption of pyrophosphate is not altered by the increased bone pyrophosphate levels. The excess bone pyrophosphate could disturb bone calcification mechanisms in uremic patients. The association between increased bone pyrophosphate and soft tissue calcification suggests that the disordered pyrophosphate metabolism may be important in the pathogenesis of extraosseous calcification.