Levels of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator for nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) in serum: are they of any help?

Wien Med Wochenschr. 2010 Sep;160(17-18):452-7. doi: 10.1007/s10354-010-0818-x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.


The coupling of bone formation and resorption is mediated through the OPG/RANK/RANKL system. OPG and RANKL are mainly produced by osteoblasts but also a variety of other tissues. The binding of RANKL to RANK, its natural receptor which is expressed by osteoclasts, accelerates bone resorption. OPG acts as decoy receptor and prevents the interaction of RANKL with RANK and therefore leads to a decrease in activity, survival and proliferation of osteoclasts. Since assays for measurements of serum OPG and RANKL have become commercially available, intense research focused on serum OPG/RANKL levels in context with underlying disease, age, co-morbidities, bone density, and fractures has derived. This review aims to provide an overview if and to which extent serum OPG and RANKL levels may reflect bone metabolism in patients with osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / diagnosis
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / physiopathology
  • Bone Resorption / blood*
  • Bone and Bones / physiopathology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / diagnosis
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Osteoblasts / physiology
  • Osteoclasts / physiology
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Osteoporosis / blood
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoprotegerin / blood*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • RANK Ligand / blood*


  • Osteoprotegerin
  • RANK Ligand
  • TNFSF11 protein, human