Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism, and the efficacy of medical therapy and chemo- and radiotherapy is poor in recurrent or metastatic disease. We report the first case of PTH immunization in which tumor shrinkage accompanied hormonal, biochemical, and clinical improvements in a patient with metastatic parathyroid carcinoma.
A 50-yr-old woman with refractory parathyroid carcinoma and pulmonary metastases was immunized eight times between February 2001 and December 2003 with bovine and modified human PTH fragments and intact human PTH, mixed with Freund’s adjuvant. Total and ionized calcium and PTH levels were assayed weekly for 6 months and regularly thereafter. Thoracic computed tomography scans were performed regularly.
Antibodies to all PTH fragments were detected after two immunizations. Baseline PTH and total calcium were 213.0 ng/liter and 13.96 mg/dl, respectively, and remained elevated during the first three immunizations. From the fourth immunization onward, PTH and calcium decreased, and the patient’s clinical condition improved markedly. PTH and calcium levels have remained controlled for more than 24 months, and the sizes (surface area) of pulmonary metastases decreased from baseline by 39-71%.
This is the first evidence that PTH immunization not only can improve clinical, hormonal, and biochemical measures in parathyroid carcinoma but also has an antitumor effect.