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20.10.2018 | Review Article | Ausgabe 1/2019

World Journal of Pediatrics 1/2019

An update on the role of RANKL–RANK/osteoprotegerin and WNT-ß-catenin signaling pathways in pediatric diseases

World Journal of Pediatrics > Ausgabe 1/2019
Giacomina Brunetti, Gabriele D’Amato, Mariangela Chiarito, Apollonia Tullo, Graziana Colaianni, Silvia Colucci, Maria Grano, Maria Felicia Faienza



Bone remodeling is a lifelong process due to the balanced activity of osteoclasts (OCs), the bone-reabsorbing cells, and osteoblasts (OBs), and the bone-forming cells. This equilibrium is regulated by numerous cytokines, but it has been largely demonstrated that the RANK/RANKL/osteoprotegerin and Wnt/β-catenin pathways play a key role in the control of osteoclastogenesis and osteoblastogenesis, respectively. The pro-osteoblastogenic activity of the Wnt/β-catenin can be inhibited by sclerostin and Dickkopf-1 (DKK-1). RANKL, sclerostin and DKKs-1 are often up-regulated in bone diseases, and they are the target of new monoclonal antibodies.

Data sources

The authors performed a systematic literature search in PubMed and EMBASE to June 2018, reviewed and selected articles, based on pre-determined selection criteria.


We re-evaluated the role of RANKL, osteoprotegerin, sclerostin and DKK-1 in altered bone remodeling associated with some inherited and acquired pediatric diseases, such as type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), alkaptonuria (AKU), hemophilia A, osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OH-D) and Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS). To do so, we considered recent clinical studies done on pediatric patients in which the roles of RANKL-RANK/osteoprotegerin and WNT-ß-catenin signaling pathways have been investigated, and for which innovative therapies for the treatment of osteopenia/osteoporosis are being developed.


The case studies taken into account for this review demonstrated that quite frequently both bone reabsorbing and bone deposition are impaired in pediatric diseases. Furthermore, for some of them, bone damage began in childhood but only manifested with age. The use of denosumab could represent a valid alternative therapeutic approach to improve bone health in children, although further studies need to be carried out.

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