Calcitonin is a peptide hormone produced by the C cells of the thyroid gland (in mammals). It acts on bone (inhibiting osteoclasis) to reduce the rate of bone turnover, and on the kidney to reduce reabsorption of calcium and phosphorus. It is obtained from natural sources (pork, salmon, eel), or synthesised. The t'/2 varies according to source; t\ human is 10 min. Antibodies develop particularly to pork calcitonin and neutralise its effect; synthetic salmon calcitonin (salcatonin) is therefore preferred for prolonged use; loss of effect may also be due to down-regulation of receptors. Calcitonin is used (s.c., i.m. or intranasally) to control hypercalcaemia (rapid effect), Paget's disease of bone (relief of pain, and to relieve compression of nerves, e.g. auditory cranial), metastatic bone cancer pain, and postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Adverse effects include allergy, nausea, flushing and tingling of the face and hands.

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