Submit Manuscript  

Article Details

Molecular Determinants of Vascular Calcification: A Bench to Bedside View

[ Vol. 6 , Issue. 5 ]


S. Dellegrottaglie, J. Sanz and S. Rajagopalan   Pages 515 - 524 ( 10 )


Vascular calcification (VC) is an orchestrated event, evoking the programmed process of the osteogenesis and triggered by inflammatory cytokines active at vascular level. VC is a dynamic process in which the vessel wall intima, media and also cardiac valves may be involved. Intimal calcification is an endochondral ossification process in which type II collagen is mineralized by calcium deposition. In contrast, an intra-membranous ossification process leads to medial calcification, while a dystrophic calcification process is responsible for valvular calcification. Mechanisms involved in VC may be summarized as: 1. Activation of osteogenesis in the vessel wall, 2. Loss of inhibitory factors, 3. Enhanced bone turnover, and 4. Abnormalities in mineral metabolism. The signaling axis constituted by osteoprotegerin (OPG), receptor activator nuclear factor kB (RANK) and its ligand (RANKL), along with the monocyte colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) and the transcription factor core Binding protein (Cbfa-1), play a pivotal role in the control of VC. In contrast, fetuin-A, matrix G1a protein (MGP) and osteopontin (OPN) control the inhibition of VC. In addition, abnormal mineral metabolism with enhanced phosphates availability favors calcium deposition. The inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α enhance OPG and RANKL function in the vessel wall leading to VC. VC is a controlled process, depending on the balance between osteoblastic and osteoclastic influences and further modulated by the influence of risk factors like diabetes, smoking, age, hypertension and dyslipidemia. Recent advances in diagnostic tools such as with multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) and electron beam computed tomography (EBCT), may help diagnosis and delineation of VC in the clinical setting and aid in understanding its prognostic value.


Vascular calcification, osteogenesis, calcium, phosphates, bone metabolism, osteoprotegerin, osteopontin


Cardiovascular Institute, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Box 1030, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA.

Read Full-Text article