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Osteoporos Int. 2014 Aug;25(8):2067-75. doi: 10.1007/s00198-014-2720-7. Epub 2014 May 10.

Interferon gamma (IFN-γ)-mediated inflammation and the kynurenine pathway in relation to risk of hip fractures: the Hordaland Health Study.

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Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Kalfarveien 31, 5018, Bergen, Norway,


The cytokine interferon gamma (IFN-γ) stimulates neopterin release and tryptophan degradation into kynurenines through the kynurenine pathway. High levels of neopterin were associated with increased hip fracture risk, as were some of the kynurenines, suggesting a role of IFN-γ-mediated inflammation in the processes leading to hip fracture.


Low-grade systemic inflammation has been associated with bone loss and risk of fractures. Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) initiates macrophage release of neopterin and also stimulates degradation of tryptophan along the kynurenine pathway as part of cell-mediated immune activation. Plasma neopterin and the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio (KTR) are thus markers of IFN-γ-mediated inflammation. Risk of hip fracture was investigated in relation to markers of inflammation and metabolites in the kynurenine pathway (kynurenines).


Participants (71 to 74 years, N = 3,311) in the community-based Hordaland Health Study (HUSK) were followed for hip fractures from enrolment (1998-2000) until 31 December 2009. Plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), neopterin, KTR, and six kynurenines were investigated as predictors of hip fracture, using Cox proportional hazards regression analyses.


A hazard ratio (HR) of 1.9 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-2.7) for hip fracture was found in the highest compared to the lowest quartile of neopterin (p trend across quartiles <0.001). CRP and KTR were not related to hip fracture risk. Among the kynurenines, a higher risk of fracture was found in the highest compared to the lowest quartiles of anthranilic acid and 3-hydroxykynurenine. For subjects in the highest quartiles of neopterin, CRP, and KTR compared to those in no top quartiles, HR was 2.5 (95% CI 1.6-4.0).


This may indicate a role for low-grade immune activation in the pathogenic processes leading to hip fracture.

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