The role of RANK/RANKL/OPG signalling pathways in osteoclastogenesis in odontogenic keratocysts, radicular cysts, and ameloblastomas.

Research paper by Merva Soluk MS Tekkesin, Sevcihan S Mutlu, Vakur V Olgac

Indexed on: 07 Jun '11Published on: 07 Jun '11Published in: Head and Neck Pathology


The aim of this study was to evaluate the immunohistochemical expression of molecules involved in osteoclastogenesis, including the receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B (RANK), RANK ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) in odontogenic keratocysts (OKCs), which has been named as a keratocystic odontogenic tumour by the WHO, and compare their expression with radicular cysts and ameloblastomas. RANK is a member of tumour necrosis factor receptor family and it is activated by RANK ligand. OPG binds to RANKL and inactivates it. The imbalance of these factors could cause the differential bone resorption activity in some diseases and tumours. The expression of these molecules was evaluated in ameloblastomas (n = 20), OKCs (n = 20), and radicular cysts (n = 20) by immunohistochemistry. Immunohistochemical reactivity for RANK, RANKL, and OPG was detected in neoplastic and nonneoplastic epithelium and connective tissue cells. RANK showed the greatest expression in OKCs followed by ameloblastomas, with the lowest expression seen in radicular cysts. Expression of RANKL was detected in all lesions and no significant differences were observed between groups. OPG was expressed very low in all groups. In the stroma, the number of RANK positive cells was higher in OKCs when compared with ameloblastomas and radicular cysts but radicular cyst had higher numbers of RANKL positive cells in the stroma than ameloblastomas. The molecular system of RANK/RANKL/OPG is variably expressed in OKCs, radicular cysts, and ameloblastomas and this system may be involved in the osteoclastogenic mechanisms in OKCs and ameloblastomas. Advanced studies could further clarify the role of RANK, RANKL, and OPG in mediating tumour associated bone osteolysis.