Reproductive and Lifestyle Factors and Circulating sRANKL and OPG Concentrations in Women: Results from the EPIC Cohort

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019 Oct;28(10):1746-1754. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-0241. Epub 2019 Jul 10.


Background: Except for a documented increase in osteoprotegerin (OPG) concentrations with older age, data on determinants of soluble Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor κB (sRANKL) and OPG concentrations in women are limited. We evaluated reproductive and lifestyle factors as potential sources of variation in circulating sRANKL and OPG concentrations in pre- and postmenopausal women.

Methods: This study includes 2,016 controls [n = 1,552 (76%) postmenopausal, n = 757 (38%) using postmenopausal hormone therapy (PMH)] from a breast cancer case-control study nested in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. Serum sRANKL was measured using an ELISA and serum OPG using an electrochemiluminescent assay. Generalized linear models were used to evaluate associations between these analytes and reproductive and lifestyle factors.

Results: Older age at blood collection was associated with lower sRANKL concentrations in postmenopausal women (P trend ≤ 0.03) and higher OPG concentrations in all women (P trend ≤ 0.01). Longer duration of oral contraceptive use among premenopausal women and postmenopausal PMH users was associated with higher OPG (P trend ≤ 0.04). In postmenopausal non-PMH users, sRANKL concentrations were lower with longer duration of oral contraceptive use and current (vs. never) smoking (P ≤ 0.01). sRANKL concentrations were higher among women with higher BMI (P trend ≤ 0.01). The evaluated factors accounted for 12% of the variation in sRANKL concentrations and 21% of the variation in OPG concentrations.

Conclusions: Circulating sRANKL and OPG concentrations are minimally impacted by hormone-related factors in pre- and postmenopausal women.

Impact: This study suggests circulating concentrations of sRANKL and OPG are unlikely to be strongly modified by hormone-related reproductive and lifestyle factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoprotegerin / blood*
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Premenopause / blood
  • RANK Ligand / blood*
  • Reproductive History


  • Biomarkers
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • RANK Ligand
  • TNFRSF11B protein, human
  • TNFSF11 protein, human