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Insights into the mechanism of vascular calcification

  • Kristina Boström
    Correspondence
    Address for reprints: Kristina Boström, MD, PhD, Division of Cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, Box 951679, Room 47-123 CHS, Los Angeles, California 90095-1679
    Affiliations
    Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA

    Department of Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
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      Abstract

      Vascular calcification is common and clinically significant in atherosclerosis and heart failure. It was long believed to be an end-stage process of “passive” mineral precipitation. However, there is now a growing awareness that vascular calcification is a biologically regulated phenomenon. It has many similarities to bone formation, and ectopic bone is a well-documented part of vascular calcification. This implies that alterations in vascular cell differentiation, extensive or localized, are an integral part of vascular calcification. Matrix γ-carboxylated glutamate (GLA) protein (MGP)-deficient mice develop extensive vascular calcification with replacement of the media by progressively calcifying cartilage. A potential mechanism that explains these findings is MGP interference with bone morphogenetic proteins—potent inducers of cartilage and bone.
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