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Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 2009 Dec;2(6):583-90. doi: 10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.108.847814. Epub 2009 Sep 21.

In vivo genetic evidence for suppressing vascular and soft-tissue calcification through the reduction of serum phosphate levels, even in the presence of high serum calcium and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin d levels.

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  • 1Departments of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity and Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Mass, USA.



Klotho-knockout mice (klotho(-/-)) have increased renal expression of sodium/phosphate cotransporters (NaPi2a), associated with severe hyperphosphatemia. Such serum biochemical changes in klotho(-/-) mice lead to extensive soft-tissue anomalies and vascular calcification. To determine the significance of increased renal expression of the NaPi2a protein and concomitant hyperphosphatemia and vascular calcification in klotho(-/-) mice, we generated klotho and NaPi2a double-knockout (klotho(-/-)/NaPi2a(-/-)) mice.


Genetic inactivation of NaPi2a activity from klotho(-/-) mice reversed the severe hyperphosphatemia to mild hypophosphatemia or normophosphatemia. Importantly, despite significantly higher serum calcium and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels in klotho(-/-)/NaPi2a(-/-) mice, the vascular and soft-tissue calcifications were reduced. Extensive soft-tissue anomalies and cardiovascular calcification were consistently noted in klotho(-/-) mice by 6 weeks of age; however, these vascular and soft-tissue abnormalities were absent even in 12-week-old double-knockout mice. Klotho(-/-)/NaPi2a(-/-) mice also regained body weight and did not develop the generalized tissue atrophy often noted in klotho(-/-) single-knockout mice.


Our in vivo genetic manipulation studies have provided compelling evidence for a pathological role of increased NaPi2a activities in regulating abnormal mineral ion metabolism and soft-tissue anomalies in klotho(-/-) mice. Notably, our results suggest that serum phosphate levels are the important in vivo determinant of calcification and that lowering serum phosphate levels can reduce or eliminate soft-tissue and vascular calcification, even in presence of extremely high serum calcium and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels. These in vivo observations have significant clinical importance and therapeutic implications for patients with chronic kidney disease with cardiovascular calcification.

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