Detection of Osteopontin in Calcified Human Aortic Valves
Cardiac valve calcification often results in obstruction of blood flow, which eventually leads to valve replacement. The molecular mechanisms resulting in valve calcification are unknown. Collagen and specific bone matrix proteins are thought to provide the framework for ectopic tissue calcification. This investigation was performed to determine whether the bone matrix protein osteopontin was present in calcified human aortic valves. Proteins extracted from human aortic valve tissue were subjected to polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by Western blotting, using polyclonal antibodies directed against osteopontin. Fresh frozen tissue sections were also screened for osteopontin and macrophages using immunohistochemical techniques. Osteopontin was present in both heavily and minimally calcified aortic valves and absent in noncalcified purely regurgitant or normal aortic valves by both radioimmunoassay (n = 16) and immunohistochemical techniques (n = 8). Osteopontin colocalized with valvular calcific deposits, and macrophages were identified in the vicinity of osteopontin. These results, in addition to showing that osteopontin is present in calcified human aortic valves, suggest that osteopontin is a regulatory protein in pathological calcification. Identification of the cells producing osteopontin in abnormal cardiac valves and of proximate stimuli for its secretion may lead to novel therapeutic strategies to prevent and/or reverse calcific valve disease.
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