Apoptosis Regulates Human Vascular Calcification In Vitro
Evidence for Initiation of Vascular Calcification by Apoptotic Bodies
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Abstract—The mechanisms involved in the initiation of vascular calcification are not known, but matrix vesicles, the nucleation sites for calcium crystal formation in bone, are likely candidates, because similar structures have been found in calcified arteries. The regulation of matrix vesicle production is poorly understood but is thought to be associated with apoptotic cell death. In the present study, we investigated the role of apoptosis in vascular calcification. We report that apoptosis occurs in a human vascular calcification model in which postconfluent vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) cultures form nodules spontaneously and calcify after ≈28 days. Apoptosis occurred before the onset of calcification in VSMC nodules and was detected by several methods, including nuclear morphology, the TUNEL technique, and external display of phosphatidyl serine. Inhibition of apoptosis with the caspase inhibitor ZVAD.fmk reduced calcification in nodules by ≈40%, as measured by the cresolphthalein method and alizarin red staining. In addition, when apoptosis was stimulated in nodular cultures with anti-Fas IgM, there was a 10-fold increase in calcification. Furthermore, incubation of VSMC-derived apoptotic bodies with 45Ca demonstrated that, like matrix vesicles, they can concentrate calcium. These observations provide evidence that apoptosis precedes VSMC calcification and that apoptotic bodies derived from VSMCs may act as nucleating structures for calcium crystal formation.
- Received July 5, 2000.
- Revision received October 18, 2000.
- Accepted October 18, 2000.
- © 2000 American Heart Association, Inc.