High serum osteoprotegerin levels in patients with hyperthyroidism: Effect of medical treatment

G. Amato, G. Mazziotti, F. Sorvillo, M. Piscopo, E. Lalli, B. Biondi, S. Iorio, A. Molinari, A. Giustina, C. Carella

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This study was aimed at evaluating serum osteoprotegerin (OPG) concentrations in a cohort of patients with hyperthyroidism before and after methimazole (MMI) treatment. One hundred fourteen hyperthyroid patients [93 with Graves disease (GD) and 21 with toxic nodular goitre (TNG)] and 68 matched for sex and age healthy subjects were evaluated for serum free-thyroxine (FT4), free-triiodiothyronine (FT3), thyrotropin (TSH), TSH receptor antibodies (TRAb), bone alkaline phosphatase (BALP), C-telopeptides of type-1 collagen (CrossLaps), OPG levels, and bone mineral density (BMD). In hyperthyroid patients, the biochemical evaluations were performed before and after 6 and 12 months of MMI treatment, whereas BMD was measured at baseline and after 12 months of treatment. Hyperthyroidism was more severe in GD than TNG patients. Serum OPG levels were found to be significantly higher in hyperthyroid patients than in the healthy subjects (4.3 pmol/l, range: 1.6-12.0, vs. 2.2 pmol/l, range: 1.4-6.0; P <0.001), the values being higher in GD patients than TNG. A significant correlation between serum OPG levels and age was found in the healthy subjects (r: 0.48; P <0.001) but not in hyperthyroid patients (r: -0.03; P = 0.8). In the healthy subjects, serum OPG levels were also positively correlated with both serum FT4 (r: 0.23; P = 0.03) and FT3 (r: 0.24; P = 0.04) levels. In hyperthyroid patients, however, serum OPG was still correlated with FT3 levels (r: 0.38; P <0.001), whereas the correlation with serum FT4 was lost (r: 0.19; P = 0.06). In hyperthyroid patients, but not in the healthy subjects, serum OPG levels were correlated positively with CrossLaps (r: 0.20; P = 0.03) and negatively with BALP (r: -0.24; P = 0.01) and BMD (r: -0.33; P = 0.01). After 6 months of MMI treatment, serum OPG concentrations decreased significantly in TNG patients (from 3.5 pmol/l, range: 1.6-8.0, to 2.3 pmol/l, range: 1.0-4.3; P <0.001), whereas a not significant change in OPG levels occurred in GD patients (from 4.8 pmol/l, range: 1.8-12.0, to 4.2 pmol/l, range: 1.0-14.0; P = 0.7). At Month 12 of treatment, serum OPG concentrations were significantly lower than those measured at baseline in both TNG (2.5 pmol/l, range: 1.0-3.1, vs. 3.5 pmol/l, range: 1.6-8.0; P <0.001) and GD (2.1 pmol/l, range: 1.0-8.6, vs. 4.8 pmol/l, range: 1.8-12.0; P <0.001). At this time, no significant differences in serum OPG, CrossLaps, and BALP values were found between patients and control subjects. At the end of follow-up, BMD was higher than those measured at baseline but still significantly lower than those measured in the control subjects. This study shows that hyperthyroid patients have serum OPG concentrations significantly higher in comparison with euthyroid subjects, in relation to thyroid hormone excess and high bone turnover. Medical treatment of hyperthyroidism normalizes serum OPG levels in temporal relationship with the normalization of bone metabolism markers, even in presence of persistent abnormal bone structure as determined by ultrasonography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-791
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004


  • Autoimmune disease
  • Bone metabolism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Thyroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology


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