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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 1995 Dec;31(11):853-7.

Matrix proteins associated with bone calcification are present in human vascular smooth muscle cells grown in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Minnesota, Duluth 55812, USA.


Atherosclerotic lesions are composed of cellular elements that have migrated from the vessel lumen and wall to form the cellular component of the developing plaque. The cellular elements are influenced by various growth-regulatory molecules, cytokines, chemoattractants, and vasoregulatory molecules that regulate the synthesis of the extracellular matrix composing the plaque. Because vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) constitute the major cellular elements of the atherosclerotic plaque and are thought to be responsible for the extracellular matrix that becomes calcified in mature plaques, immunostaining for collagenous and noncollagenous proteins typically associated with bone matrix was conducted on VSMC grown in vitro. VSMC obtained from human aorta were grown in chambers on glass slides and immunostained for procollagen type I, bone sialoprotein, osteonectin, osteocalcin, osteopontin, decorin, and biglycan. VSMC demonstrated an intense staining for procollagen type I, and a moderately intense staining for the noncollagenous proteins, bone sialoprotein and osteonectin, two proteins closely associated with bone mineralization. Minimal immunostaining was noted for osteocalcin, osteopontin, decorin, and biglycan. The presence in VSMC of collagenous and noncollagenous proteins associated with bone mineralization suggest that the smooth muscle cells in the developing atherosclerotic plaque play an important role in the deposition of the extracellular matrix involved in calcification of developing lesions.

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