Calcitonin is a hormone that is primarily involved in the regulation of calcium and phosphate metabolism in the body. It is produced by the parafollicular cells (also known as C cells) of the thyroid gland. Calcitonin acts to decrease blood calcium levels by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts, cells responsible for breaking down bone tissue and releasing calcium into the bloodstream.
Calcitonin also stimulates calcium uptake and incorporation into bone tissue, which can help to increase bone density and prevent bone loss. This property has led to the use of synthetic calcitonin as a treatment for osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone density and increased risk of fractures.
In addition to its effects on bone metabolism, calcitonin also has other physiological functions. It can inhibit the reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys, which can lead to increased excretion of calcium in the urine. This property has led to the use of calcitonin in the treatment of hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood.
Calcitonin has also been investigated as a potential treatment for other conditions, such as chronic pain and migraine headaches. However, its efficacy in these areas remains controversial and further research is needed.
Calcitonin can be administered as an injection, nasal spray, or as a transdermal patch. Side effects may include flushing, nausea, and vomiting, and long-term use may lead to the development of antibodies that reduce its effectiveness.