Bone metastases detection by circulating biomarkers: OPG and RANK-L

Laura Mercatali, Toni Ibrahim, Emanuele Sacanna, Emanuela Flamini, Emanuela Scarpi, Daniele Calistri, Marianna Ricci, Patrizia Serra, Rossana Ricci, Wainer Zoli, Yibin Kang, Dino Amadori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Osteoprotegerin (OPG) is a decoy receptor of the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANK-L) and plays an important role in the formation of metastatic bone lesions. We evaluated the usefulness of circulating OPG and RANK-L for the detection of bone metastases. We enrolled 143 individuals in the study: 30 healthy donors (HD) and 113 breast cancer patients. Among patients, 49 had no evidence of disease (NEDP), 54 had bone metastases (BMP) at first diagnosis, and 10 had visceral metastases (VMP). Both transcripts were determined in peripheral blood samples using quantitative PCR. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to calculate the diagnostic accuracy of OPG, RANK-L, CEA and CA15-3. OPG and RANK-L median values were significantly lower in BMP (median 0.5, range 0.1-5.7, p<0.001 and median 0.5, range 0.1-4.5, p=0.024, respectively) compared to NEDP (median 1.7, range 0.4-8.9 and median 0.8, range 0.2-3.8, respectively), regardless of the number and type of bone lesions or the presence of visceral metastases. The area under the ROC curve (NEDP vs. BMP) was higher for OPG (82.5, 95% CI 74.5-90.6) than for RANK-L (69.2, 95% CI 590-7940). Specificity for OPG was 87.7% (95% CI 75.7-94.2) and sensitivity was 74.1% (95% CI 60.4-85.0), both values increasing when considered together with CEA and CA15-3. For VMP, OPG and RANK-L were expressed in only one patient. Our results highlight the potentially important role of circulating OPG in the diagnosis of bone metastases. A confirmatory study on a larger case series is ongoing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Bone metastases
  • Breast cancer
  • Diagnosis
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand


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