The role of activin: the other side of chronic kidney disease-mineral bone disorder?

Giuseppe Cianciolo, Gaetano La Manna, Irene Capelli, Lorenzo Gasperoni, Andrea Galassi, Paola Ciceri, Mario Cozzolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic kidney disease-mineral bone disorder (CKD-MBD) plays a pivotal role in the excess of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with CKD. There is now a growing awareness that pathways involved in CKD-MBD, like canonical Wnt signalling, are activated from the earliest stages of CKD, playing a role in the development of adynamic bone disease with unknown consequences on vasculature. These changes occur before the classic changes in mineral metabolism: secondary hyperparathyroidism, calcitriol deficiency and hyperphosphataemia. Furthermore, vascular calcification is frequently associated and evolves with decreased bone mineral density and deranged bone turnover, while bone and arterial mineralization share common pathways. Therefore, results of clinical trials focused on mineral bone disorder, aimed at preserving bone and cardiovascular health, are considered unsatisfactory. In order to identify more effective therapeutic strategies, it is necessary to clarify the pathways modulating the cross-talk between bone and vasculature and identify new mediators involved in the pathogenesis of CKD-MBD. Much attention has been paid recently to the role of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily members in renal disease, and in particular of activin A (ActA). Preclinical studies demonstrate an upgrade of ActA signalling in kidney, skeleton, vasculature and heart during CKD. This supports the idea that an endocrine factor produced in the kidney during renal disease, in addition to promoting the progression of kidney damage, deranges other organs' homoeostasis and participates in CKD-MBD. In this review, we analyse the contribution of ActA to kidney fibrosis and inflammation as well as its role in the development of CKD-MBD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-974
Number of pages9
JournalNephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 27 2021


  • activin A
  • chronic kidney disease
  • fibrosis
  • vascular calcification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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