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Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2010 Jul;19(4):359-65. doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e3283393a2b.

Molecular determinants of extracellular matrix mineralization in bone and blood vessels.

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Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Mineralization imparts important biomechanical and other functional properties to bones and teeth. Ectopic pathologic mineralization, however, occurring in soft tissues such as blood vessels, kidneys, articular cartilage and also in body fluids, including urine and synovial fluid, is generally debilitating, often painful and typically is destructive of compromised tissue. Here we review new findings on direct molecular determinants of mineralization operating locally at the level of the extracellular matrix, with a focus on bone and blood vessels.


Accumulating evidence indicates important key roles for secreted noncollagenous proteins in regulating mineralization, wherein they also contribute structurally to the scaffolding properties of the extracellular matrix. Mineral-binding proteins contain conserved acidic peptide domains (often highly phosphorylated), which bind strongly to calcium within the apatitic mineral phase of bone and calcified blood vessels to regulate crystal growth. Other recent work has underscored the importance of the small-molecule mineralization inhibitor pyrophosphate in inhibiting tissue mineralization - an inhibition released through its enzymatic cleavage by tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase. Recent findings on mechanisms involved in matrix vesicle-mediated mineralization are also discussed.


Mechanistic details are emerging that describe a scenario wherein the combined actions of mineral-binding noncollagenous matrix peptides/proteins within a scaffolding of collagen (and also elastin in blood vessels), phosphatases and matrix vesicles all contribute importantly to promoting or limiting mineralization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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