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J Endocrinol. 2002 Aug;174(2):353-9.

Serum osteoprotegerin/osteoclastogenesis-inhibitory factor during pregnancy and lactation and the relationship with calcium-regulating hormones and bone turnover markers.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Tokushima, School of Medicine, 3-18-15, Kuramoto-cho, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


Pregnancy and lactation induce dynamic changes in maternal bone and calcium metabolism. A novel cytokine termed osteoprotegerin (OPG)/osteoclastogenesis-inhibitory factor (OCIF) was recently isolated; this cytokine inhibits osteoclast maturation. To define the effects of pregnancy and lactation on circulating OPG/OCIF in mothers, we studied the changes in the levels of OPG/ OCIF as well as those of calcium-regulating hormones and biochemical markers of bone turnover in the maternal circulation during pregnancy (at 8-11 weeks, at 22-30 weeks, at 35-36 weeks and immediately before delivery) and lactation (at 4 days and at 1 month postpartum). Serum intact parathyroid hormone levels did not change and were almost within the normal range in this period. In contrast, serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels increased with gestational age and were above the normal range during pregnancy. After delivery, they fell rapidly and significantly (P<0.01) to the normal range. The levels of serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, one of the markers of bone formation, increased with gestational age. After delivery, these levels were further increased at 1 month postpartum. The levels at 1 month postpartum were significantly higher than those at 8-11 and 22-30 weeks of pregnancy (P<0.01 and P<0.05 respectively). The levels of serum C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen, one of the markers of bone resorption, did not change during pregnancy. After delivery, they rapidly and significantly (P<0.01) rose at 4 days postpartum, and had then fallen by 1 month postpartum. Circulating OPG/OCIF levels gradually increased with gestational age and significantly (P<0.01) increased immediately before delivery to 1.40+/-0.53 ng/ml (means+/-S.D.) compared with those in the non-pregnant, non-lactating controls (0.58+/-0.11 ng/ml). After delivery, they fell rapidly to 0.87+/-0.27 ng/ml at 4 days postpartum and had fallen further by 1 month postpartum. These results suggest that the fall in OPG/OCIF levels may be partially connected with the marked acceleration of bone resorption after delivery.

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