Experimental and clinical trials in the field of bone biology helped to clarify the role of receptors, which belong to the tumor necrosis factor family, such as osteoprotegerin and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK), in the regulation of bone remodeling. The ligand of the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANKL) is a stimulator of bone resorption, while osteoprotegerin is the soluble "decoy" receptor to RANKL, protecting thereby bone from resorption. Pathological states of bone remodeling (like osteoporosis) are associated with inbalance in the activity of osteoprotegerin and the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB. Recent studies, however, also indicate that the osteoprotegerin/ RANKL/ RANK system has important roles in the regulation of the immune and vascular system as well. In this review we summarize the function and regulation of osteoprotegerin, its role in pathological states - primarily in cardiovascular diseases - and its relevance as a marker of cardiovascular risk. Finally, we present our prospective trial performed among the chronic dialyzed patients, where we examined the association between the cardiovascular mortality, osteoprotegerin levels and the arterial stiffness.
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