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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011 Aug;31(8):1821-33. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.230011. Epub 2011 May 19.

Vascular calcification and aortic fibrosis: a bifunctional role for osteopontin in diabetic arteriosclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Washington University in St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Calcification and fibrosis reduce vascular compliance in arteriosclerosis. To better understand the role of osteopontin (OPN), a multifunctional protein upregulated in diabetic arteries, we evaluated contributions of OPN in male low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-/- mice fed a high-fat diet.


OPN had no impact on high-fat diet-induced hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, or body composition. However, OPN-/-;LDLR-/- mice exhibited an altered time-course of aortic calcium accrual-reduced during initiation but increased with progression-versus OPN+/+;LDLR-/- controls. Collagen accumulation, chondroid metaplasia, and mural thickness were increased in aortas of OPN-/-;LDLR-/- mice. Aortic compliance was concomitantly reduced. Vascular reexpression of OPN (SM22-OPN transgene) reduced aortic Col2A1 and medial chondroid metaplasia but did not affect atherosclerotic calcification, Col1A1 expression, collagen accumulation, or arterial stiffness. Dosing with the proinflammatory OPN fragment SVVYGLR upregulated aortic Wnt and osteogenic gene expression, increased aortic β-catenin, and restored early-phase aortic calcification in OPN-/-;LDLR-/- mice.


OPN exerts stage-specific roles in arteriosclerosis in LDLR-/- mice. Actions phenocopied by the OPN metabolite SVVYGLR promote osteogenic calcification processes with disease initiation. OPN limits vascular chondroid metaplasia, endochondral mineralization, and collagen accumulation with progression. Complete deficiency yields a net increase in arteriosclerotic disease, reducing aortic compliance and conduit vessel function in LDLR-/- mice.

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