Zinc Supplements and Bone Health: The Role of the RANKL-RANK Axis as a Therapeutic Target

Negin Amin, Cain Clark, Mohsen Taghizadeh, Sadegh Jafarnejad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: To this day, empirical data suggests that zinc has important roles in matrix synthesis, bone turnover, and mineralization and its beneficial effects on bone could be mediated through different mechanisms. The influence of zinc on bone turnover could be facilitated via regulating RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway in bone tissue. Therefore, the aim of the study was to conduct a review to investigate the possible effect of the zinc mediated bone remodeling via RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway. Methods: A comprehensive systematic search was performed in MEDLINE/PubMed, Cochrane Library, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar to explore the studies investigating the effect of zinc as a bone remodeling factor via RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway regulation. Subsequently, the details of the pathway and the impact of zinc supplements on RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway regulation were discussed. Results: The pathway could play an important role in bone remodeling and any imbalance between RANKL/RANK/OPG components could lead to extreme bone resorption. Although the outcomes of some studies are equivocal, it is evident that zinc possesses protective properties against bone loss by regulating the RANKL/RANK/OPG pathway. There are several experiments where zinc supplementation resulted in upregulation of OPG expression or decreases RANKL level. However, the results of some studies oppose this. Conclusion: It is likely that sufficient zinc intake will elicit positive effects on bone health by RANKL/RANK/OPG regulation. Although the outcomes of a few studies are equivocal, it seems that zinc can exert the protective properties against bone loss by suppressing osteoclastogenesis via downregulation of RANKL/RANK. Additionally, there are several experiments where zinc supplementation resulted in upregulation of OPG expression. However, the results of limited studies oppose this. Therefore, aside from the positive role zinc possesses in preserving bone mass, further effects of zinc in RANKL/RANK/OPG system requires further animal/human studies
Original languageEnglish
Article number126417
JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
Early online date11 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020



  • Bone health
  • Bone remodeling
  • RANKL/RANK/OPG system
  • Zinc supplement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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