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Clin Nephrol. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.5414/CN109650. [Epub ahead of print]

Serum bone markers in ROD patients across the spectrum of decreases in GFR: Activin A increases before all other markers



Renal osteodystrophy (ROD) develops early in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and progresses with loss of kidney function. While intact parathyroid hormone (PTH), 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D), and fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23) levels are usually considered the primary abnormalities in ROD development, the role of serum activin A elevations in CKD and its relationships to ROD have not been explored. The aims of this study were to evaluate serum activin A at different CKD stages, and to establish the relationships between activin A, bone biomarkers, and bone histomorphometric parameters.


104 patients with CKD stages 2 - 5D underwent bone biopsies. We measured in the serum activin A, BSAP, DKK1, FGF-23, α-Klotho, intact PTH, sclerostin, TRAP-5b, and 1,25D. Biochemical results were compared across CKD stages and with 19 age-matched controls with normal kidney function.


Median activin A levels were increased in all stages of CKD compared to controls from 544 pg/mL in CKD 2 (431 - 628) to 1,135 pg/mL in CKD 5D (816 - 1,456), compared to 369 pg/mL in controls (316 - 453, p < 0.01). The increase of activin A in CKD 2 (p = 0.016) occurred before changes in the other measured biomarkers. Activin A correlated with intact PTH and FGF-23 (r = 0.65 and 0.61; p < 0.01) and with histomorphometric parameters of bone turnover (BFR/BS, Acf, ObS/BS and OcS/BS; r = 0.47 - 0.52; p < 0.01). These correlations were comparable to those found with intact PTH and FGF-23.


Serum activin A levels increase starting at CKD 2 before elevations in intact PTH and FGF-23. Activin A correlates with bone turnover similar to intact PTH and FGF-23. These findings suggest a role for activin A in early development of ROD.


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