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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 May 2;47(9):1850-7. Epub 2006 Apr 19.

The relationship between plasma osteoprotegerin levels and coronary artery calcification in uncomplicated type 2 diabetic subjects.

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  • 1Cardiac Imaging and Research Centre, Wellington Hospital, St. John's Wood, London, United Kingdom.



This study sought to prospectively evaluate the relationship between plasma osteoprotegerin (OPG), inflammatory biomarkers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hs-CRP], interleukin-6 [IL-6], coronary artery calcification (CAC), and cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Arterial calcification is a prominent feature of atherosclerosis and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Osteoprotegerin is a cytokine that has recently been implicated in the regulation of vascular calcification.


A total of 510 type 2 diabetic patients (53 +/- 8 years; 61% male) free of symptoms of cardiovascular disease were evaluated by CAC imaging. Risk factors, hs-CRP, IL-6, and OPG levels were measured. Patients were followed up for cardiovascular events (cardiac death, myocardial infarction, acute coronary syndrome, late revascularization, and nonhemorrhagic stroke).


Significant CAC (>10 Agatston units) was seen in 236 patients (46.3%); OPG was significantly elevated in patients with increased CAC. In multivariable analyses, OPG retained a strong association with elevated CAC scores after adjustment for age, gender, and other risk factors (odds ratio = 2.84, 95% confidence interval 2.2 to 3.67; p < 0.01). Sixteen cardiovascular events occurred during a mean follow-up of 18 +/- 5 months. The waist-to-hip ratio, United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) risk score, OPG level, and CAC score were significant predictors of time to cardiovascular events in a univariate Cox proportional hazards model. In the multivariate model, the CAC score was the only independent predictor of adverse events. Levels of hs-CRP and IL-6 were related to neither the extent of CAC nor short-term events.


A high proportion of asymptomatic diabetic patients have significant subclinical atherosclerosis. Of the biomarkers studied, only OPG predicted both subclinical disease and near-term cardiovascular events. Therefore, measurement of OPG merits further investigation as a simple test for identifying high-risk type 2 diabetic patients.

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