Osteoprotegerin and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand system in the early post-operative period of liver transplantation

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Abstract

Background

The precise mechanism that leads to accelerated bone resorption in the early post-transplant period remains unclear. Recent data suggest that osteoprotegerin (OPG) and its ligand receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) constitute a novel cytokine system that can influence the function of both bone and immune cells. The aim of our study was to assess OPG and RANKL concentrations in the early post-operative period of liver transplantation.

Methods

Serum OPG and RANKL levels were measured in 30 patients who underwent liver transplantation at 1, 7 and 14 d post-operatively. These values were compared with 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Plasma sodium, creatinine, aspartate-aminotransferase, alanine-amino transferase, γ-glutamyl transferase, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, albumin, prothrombin time, tacrolimus and cyclosporine levels were measured in each patient.

Results

We found a significant increase in OPG levels in the early post-operative period compared with the control group: day 1 (10.42 pmol/L, range 3.80–17.50 vs. 3.91 pmol/L, range 1.20–6.60; p = 0.0001), day 7 (6.90 pmol/L, range 3.00–15.30 vs. 3.91 pmol/L, range 1.20–6.60; p = 0.0001) and day 14 (5.76 pmol/L, range 2.60–10.70 vs. 3.91 pmol/L, range 1.20–6.60; p = 0.001). Similarly, serum RANKL levels were significantly higher than in the control group in this period, day 1 (0.123 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.420 vs. 0.054 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.300; p = 0.02), day 7 (0.236 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.720 vs. 0.054 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.300; p = 0.0004) and day 14 (0.137 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.520 vs. 0.054 pmol/L, range 0.010–0.300; p = 0.007). No correlation was found between OPG levels and RANKL, ischemic times, liver function tests, albumin, sodium or creatinine concentrations and tacrolimus or cyclosporine levels.

Conclusions

A significant amount of OPG and RANKL is released in the early post-transplant period of liver transplantation. This might be explained by an activation of the immune system caused by the allograft. Therefore, the RANKL/OPG system may be involved in the pathophysiological evolution of transplantation osteoporosis.

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