Objective: The bone-related peptide osteoprotegerin (OPG) has recently been found in increased amounts in the vasculature in diabetes. It is produced by vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells, and may be implicated in the development of vascular calcifications. OPG is present in the circulation, where increased amounts have been observed in patients with diabetes. In this study, we examined whether plasma OPG is associated with the glycaemic and vascular status of patients with type 1 diabetes.
Methods: Two gender-, age- and duration-comparable groups of type 1 diabetic patients either with (n = 199) or without (n = 192) signs of diabetic nephropathy were studied. Plasma OPG was determined by an ELISA.
Results: The plasma OPG concentration was significantly higher in patients with nephropathy than those without (3.11 (2.49–3.99) vs 2.57 (2.19–3.21) (median (interquartiles), ng/ml), P < 0.001). Plasma OPG correlated with haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), systolic blood pressure and age in both groups and, in addition, with kidney function in the nephropathic group. These correlations remained significant in multivariate models. In addition, we found that plasma OPG concentrations were increased among patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), both in the normoalbuminuric and the nephropathic groups. The differences between nephropathic and normoalbuminuric, as well as subgroups with and without CVD, could largely be ascribed to changes in HbA1c, age, systolic blood pressure and creatinine.
Conclusion: OPG is associated with glycaemic control and CVD in patients with type 1 diabetes, compatible with the hypothesis that OPG is associated with the development of diabetic vascular complications.