The paper reports a study of the distribution of phosphatases in the femora of three specimens of Humboldt's woolly monkey (Lagothrix humboldti) suffering from chronic hyperparathyroidism. Bone structure ranged from the apparently normal to extreme osteitis fibrosa. Most marked changes were found in the distribution of alkaline phosphatase, which reached at least 10 times the normal levels in the bone of the second monkey in the series, dropping to levels still well above normal in that of the most severely affected animal. Very high concentrations were found in the deeper layers of hypertrophied growth cartilage and in the osteoblasts lining poorly calcified trabeculae, and high concentrations in the fibre bone of the third animal. Lack of mineralization and the development of osteitis fibrosa are thus associated with a marked increase in alkaline phosphatase activity. Osteoclasts reacted strongly for acid phosphatase but were negative for alkaline phosphatase. Acid phosphatase levels were comparatively high in fibre bone, but overall levels ranged from 1/20 to less than 1/100 those of alkaline phosphatase. Some slow staining for acid phosphatase probably represents residual activity at acid pH of the markedly increased alkaline phosphatase. There may be some association between a failure of mineralization and the presence of acid phosphatase in osteoclasts and osteoid.
The aetiology of the monkeys' condition is discussed. It seems likely that the parathyroid hypertrophy and rachitic changes were caused by low blood calcium dependent on a low calcium diet and lack of vitamin D, in which the requirements of New World monkeys are reputedly high.
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