[en] The exact role of calcitonin (CT) in the pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoporosis remains unknown. Whole plasma calcitonin (iCT) basal levels, metabolic clearance rate (MCR), and production rate (PR) of CT were measured in 9 premenopausal and 16 postmenopausal women, including 11 osteoporotics (OP). Basal iCT levels were statistically lower in postmenopausal women than in the premenopausal group (P less than 0.01) and strongly correlated (r = 0.72; P less than 0.001) with estrone circulating levels (E1). MCR were similar in all groups. PR were similar in eugonadal women between 22 (mean +/- SD = 30.9 +/- 9.9 micrograms/d) and 37 yr (mean +/- SD = 25.5 +/- 11.1 micrograms/d) premenopausal women. In healthy postmenopausal women PR were reduced, but not significantly (mean +/- SD = 19.5 +/- 6.95 micrograms/d), whereas osteoporotic patients presented a highly significant reduction of CT PR (mean +/- SD = 9.8 +/- 4 micrograms/d) (P less than 0.01). Because there is a strong relationship between E1 and PR (r = 0.64; P less than 0.001), CT secretory capacity appears to be modulated by estrogen circulating levels. This modulation leads to a menopause-related decrease in iCT. In osteoporotics, an independent impairment of CT production drastically lowers PR and basal iCT levels. CT might be one of the determining factors in the pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoporosis.