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Circ J. 2012;76(12):2732-7. Epub 2012 Oct 30.

Balanced mineralization in the arterial system: possible role of osteoclastogenesis/osteoblastogenesis in abdominal aortic aneurysm and stenotic disease.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Arterial calcification is the result of the same highly organized processes as seen in bone, which rely on a delicate balance between osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Although previously understood as passive precipitation, evidence has accumulated to suggest that arterial calcification is the result of organized, regulated processes bearing many similarities to osteogenesis in bone, including the presence of subpopulations of arterial wall cells that retain osteoblastic lineage potential. These cells have the potential to form mineralized nodules and express osteoblast markers, including bone morphogenetic protein-2, osteocalcin, osteopontin, and alkaline phosphatase. By contrast, osteoclast-like cells mediate the catabolic process of mineral resorption. Recent data shows that cells positive for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, a major marker for osteoclasts, have been histologically identified in atherosclerotic lesions and are referred to as osteoclast-like cells. Evidence has accumulated to suggest that initial arterial calcification through passive precipitation of calcium phosphate initiates balanced mineralization regulated by osteoclast-like and osteoblast-like cells. Subsequently, various pathogenic conditions may trigger an imbalance between osteoblastogenesis and osteoclastogenesis, leading to either calcification in stenotic/occlusive disease or destruction of the extracellular matrix in aneurysmal disease. Further elucidation of these newly emerging concepts could lead to a novel therapeutic approach to arterial stenotic/occlusive disease and/or abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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