Signaling pathways involved in vascular smooth muscle cell calcification during hyperphosphatemia.


Institute for Physiology and Pathophysiology, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenberger Strasse 69, 4040, Linz, Austria. [Email]


Medial vascular calcification has emerged as a putative key factor contributing to the excessive cardiovascular mortality of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Hyperphosphatemia is considered a decisive determinant of vascular calcification in CKD. A critical role in initiation and progression of vascular calcification during elevated phosphate conditions is attributed to vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), which are able to change their phenotype into osteo-/chondroblasts-like cells. These transdifferentiated VSMCs actively promote calcification in the medial layer of the arteries by producing a local pro-calcifying environment as well as nidus sites for precipitation of calcium and phosphate and growth of calcium phosphate crystals. Elevated extracellular phosphate induces osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation of VSMCs through complex intracellular signaling pathways, which are still incompletely understood. The present review addresses critical intracellular pathways controlling osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation of VSMCs and, thus, vascular calcification during hyperphosphatemia. Elucidating these pathways holds a significant promise to open novel therapeutic opportunities counteracting the progression of vascular calcification in CKD.


CKD,Osteogenic signaling,Phosphate,Vascular calcification,Vascular smooth muscle cells,

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