Brief Report: Changes in Plasma RANKL-Osteoprotegerin in a Prospective, Randomized Clinical Trial of Initial Antiviral Therapy

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The contributions of the receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) axis to cardiovascular and bone disease in treated HIV-1 infection are not well defined.


Prospective, observational, longitudinal study.


In a subset analysis of a prospective randomized clinical trial, 234 HIV-1–infected antiretroviral therapy–naive participants received tenofovir–emtricitabine plus either atazanavir/ritonavir, darunavir/ritonavir, or raltegravir and achieved plasma HIV-1 RNA <50 copies per milliliter by week 24 and thereafter. Associations between plasma RANKL, OPG, or RANKL/OPG ratio levels with total, hip, and spine bone mineral density (BMD) loss or progression of carotid artery intima-media thickness were assessed longitudinally over 96 weeks.


Over 96 weeks, all treatment groups had similar and sustained declines in plasma RANKL, increases in plasma OPG, and subsequently, decreases in the RANKL/OPG ratio. There were no associations between plasma RANKL or RANKL/OPG ratio levels with total, hip, and spine BMD loss or progression of carotid artery intima-media thickness; however, plasma OPG in successfully treated HIV-infected patients (week 48 and 96) was associated with spine BMD loss.


In virologically suppressed HIV-infected patients, the evolution of bone disease could be linked to plasma OPG levels; however, the role of plasma levels of RANKL and RANKL/OPG ratio in the prediction of morbidity in treated HIV-1 infection may be limited.

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