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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Regulatory role of endothelium in the expression of genes affecting arterial calcification.

Vascular calcification is a highly regulated process sharing features of bone mineralization. Since endothelium regulates many of the processes during atherogenesis, we monitored the expression of genes involved in calcification upon exposure of human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs) to atherogenic stimuli. Genes studied were: core binding factor alpha-1 (Cbfa1/Runx2), a pivotal transcriptional regulator of osteogenesis; bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2), an inducer of cartilage and bone; and matrix gla-protein (MGP), a potent inhibitor of calcification, which exerts its action by blocking BMP2. HCAECs were treated with oxidized-low density lipoprotein (ox-LDL, 80 microg/mL) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha, 10 ng/mL), and the expression of Cbfa1, BMP2, and MGP was quantified by real-time PCR. Cbfa1 was expressed at low levels in untreated HCAECs, and its expression did not change with ox-LDL or TNFalpha treatment. The expression of BMP2 and MGP increased early after exposure to ox-LDL or TNFalpha (at 2-8 h), and the increase was not evident at 24 h. Ox-LDL exerted a stronger effect on MGP than on BMP2 expression. The effects of ox-LDL, but not TNFalpha, on MGP and BMP2 expression were inhibited by pretreatment of cells with an antibody directed at LOX-1, a lectin-like receptor for ox-LDL (10 microg/mL). Thus, the endothelium, when exposed to atherogenic stimuli, ox-LDL in particular, regulates the process of calcification by enhancing the expression of the bone inhibitory MGP, while the expression of Cbfa1 remains unchanged. Upregulation of BMP2 may represent a feedback upregulation in response to increase in MGP. The effect of ox-LDL appears to be mediated by LOX-1 activation.[1]


  1. Regulatory role of endothelium in the expression of genes affecting arterial calcification. Cola, C., Almeida, M., Li, D., Romeo, F., Mehta, J.L. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. (2004) [Pubmed]
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