The RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway
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- Boyce, B.F. & Xing, L. Curr Osteoporos Rep (2007) 5: 98. doi:10.1007/s11914-007-0024-y
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Understanding of osteoclast formation and activation has advanced considerably since the discovery of the RANKL/RANK/OPG system in the mid 1990s. Osteoblasts and stromal stem cells express receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL), which binds to its receptor, RANK, on the surface of osteoclasts and their precursors. This regulates the differentiation of precursors into multinucleated osteoclasts and osteoclast activation and survival both normally and in most pathologic conditions associated with increased bone resorption. Osteoprotegerin (OPG) is secreted by osteoblasts and osteogenic stromal stem cells and protects the skeleton from excessive bone resorption by binding to RANKL and preventing it from interacting with RANK. The RANKL/OPG ratio in bone marrow is thus an important determinant of bone mass in normal and disease states. RANKL/RANK signaling also regulates lymph node formation and mammary gland lactational hyperplasia in mice, and OPG protects large arteries of mice from medial calcification. This article reviews the roles of the RANKL/RANK/OPG system in bone and other tissues.