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Atherosclerosis. 2009 Jun;204(2):321-9. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.09.033. Epub 2008 Oct 9.

Osteoprotegerin, vascular calcification and atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Vascular Biology Unit, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.

Abstract

The association of bone pathologies with atherosclerosis has stimulated the search for common mediators linking the skeletal and the vascular system. Since its initial discovery as a key regulator in bone metabolism, osteoprotegerin (OPG) has become the subject of intense interest for its role in vascular disease and calcification. Studies in vitro and in animal models suggest that OPG inhibits vascular calcification. Paradoxically however, clinical studies suggest that serum OPG levels increase in association with vascular calcification, coronary artery disease, stroke and future cardiovascular events. This has led to an extensive debate on the potential of OPG as a biomarker of vascular disease. However the exact significance and mechanisms by which this bone-regulatory protein influences cardiovascular pathophysiology is still unclear. The need for a more complete picture is being addressed in increasing valuable research indicating OPG as not only a marker but also a mediator of vascular pathology modulating osteogenic, inflammatory and apoptotic responses. By integrating the results of recent experimental research, animal models and clinical studies, this review summarises the present understanding of the role of OPG in vascular disease and calcification.

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