The process of vascular calcification shares many similarities with that of skeletal mineralisation and involves the deposition of hydroxyapatite crystals in arteries and cardiac valves. However, the cellular mechanisms responsible have yet to be fully elucidated. In this study, we employed microarray analysis to demonstrate the upregulation of more than >9000 genes during the calcification of murine vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), of which the most significantly, differentially expressed gene was Igf2. Following the validation of increased IGF2 expression by RT-qPCR and immunoblotting in calcifying murine VSMCs, IGF2 expression was further demonstrated in the calcified aorta of the Enpp1(-/-) mouse model of medial aortic calcification. Having confirmed that IGF1R and IGF2R were expressed in cultured murine VSMCs, cell-signalling studies in these cells revealed that IGF2 (50 ng/ml) significantly stimulated the phosphorylation of Akt and Erk1/2 (P<0.05). These results potentially indicate that IGF2 may mediate VSMC calcification via the stimulation of Erk1/2 and Akt signalling. This study suggests that the increased IGF2 expression in calcifying VSMCs may reflect the well-established prenatal role of IGF2, particularly as the osteogenic phenotypic transition of VSMCs in a calcified environment recapitulates many of the events occurring during embryonic development. A full understanding of the importance of IGF2 in this pathological process will lead to a better understanding of the aetiology of vascular calcification.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The process of vascular calcification shares many similarities with that of physiological skeletal mineralization, and involves the deposition of hydroxyapatite crystals in arteries. However, the cellular mechanisms responsible have yet to be fully explained. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP-9) has been shown to exert direct effects on both bone development and vascular function. In the present study, we have investigated the role of BMP-9 in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) calcification. Vessel calcification in chronic kidney disease (CKD) begins pre-dialysis, with factors specific to the dialysis milieu triggering accelerated calcification. Intriguingly, BMP-9 was markedly elevated in serum from CKD children on dialysis. Furthermore, in vitro studies revealed that BMP-9 treatment causes a significant increase in VSMC calcium content, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and mRNA expression of osteogenic markers. BMP-9-induced calcium deposition was significantly reduced following treatment with the ALP inhibitor 2,5-Dimethoxy-N-(quinolin-3-yl) benzenesulfonamide confirming the mediatory role of ALP in this process. The inhibition of ALK1 signalling using a soluble chimeric protein significantly reduced calcium deposition and ALP activity, confirming that BMP-9 is a physiological ALK1 ligand. Signal transduction studies revealed that BMP-9 induced Smad2, Smad3 and Smad1/5/8 phosphorylation. As these Smad proteins directly bind to Smad4 to activate target genes, siRNA studies were subsequently undertaken to examine the functional role of Smad4 in VSMC calcification. Smad4-siRNA transfection induced a significant reduction in ALP activity and calcium deposition. These novel data demonstrate that BMP-9 induces VSMC osteogenic differentiation and calcification via ALK1, Smad and ALP dependent mechanisms. This may identify new potential therapeutic strategies for clinical intervention.
Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine 08/2014; 19(1). DOI:10.1111/jcmm.12373 · 4.01 Impact Factor
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