Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibitors, bone metabolism and vascular health in kidney transplant patients


Background and objectives

Sclerostin, dickkopf-related protein 1 (DKK1), fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF23) and α-klotho have been shown to play an important role in bone and vascular disease of chronic kidney disease. We aimed to evaluate the evolution of these bone markers in newly kidney transplanted patients, and whether they are associated with bone metabolism and vascular stiffness.

Design, setting, participants and measurements

This is a longitudinal single-center observational cohort study. Circulating levels of Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibitors (sclerostin, DKK1, FGF23 and α-klotho), arterial stiffness (carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (PWV), carotid-radial PWV, PWV ratio, augmented index) and bone parameters were assessed before (M0), and at 3 (M3) and 6 months (M6) after transplantation. Generalized estimating equations were conducted for comparative analyses between the three time points. We used a marginal structural model for repeated measures for the impact of changes in bone markers on the evolution of arterial stiffness. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed for the associations between Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibitors and mineral metabolism parameters.


We included 79 patients (70% male; median age of 53 (44–60) years old). The levels of sclerostin (2.06 ± 1.18 ng/mL at M0 to 0.88 ± 0.29 ng/mL at M6, p ≤ 0.001), DKK1 (364.0 ± 266.7 pg/mL at M0 to 246.7 ± 149.1 pg/mL at M6, p ≤ 0.001), FGF23 (5595 ± 9603 RU/mL at M0 to 137 ± 215 RU/mL at M6, p ≤ 0.001) and α-klotho (457.6 ± 148.6 pg/mL at M0 to 109.8 ± 120.7 pg/mL at M6, p < 0.05) decreased significantly after kidney transplant. Sclerostin and FGF23 were positively associated with carotid-femoral (standardized β = 0.432, p = 0.037 and standardized β = 0.592, p = 0.005) and carotid-radial PWV (standardized β = 0.259, p = 0.029 and standardized β = 0.242, p = 0.006) throughout the 6 months of follow-up. The nature of the associations between bone markers and bone metabolism parameters varies after kidney transplant.


The circulating levels of Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibitors and α-klotho significantly decrease after kidney transplantation, while sclerostin and FGF23 levels might be associated with improvement of vascular stiffness and blood pressure.

Graphical abstract