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Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2015 May;25(4):267-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2014.10.021. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Vascular calcification: Mechanisms of vascular smooth muscle cell calcification.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women׳s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Electronic address:


Vascular calcification is highly prevalent and, when present, is associated with major adverse cardiovascular events. Vascular smooth muscle cells play an integral role in mediating vessel calcification by undergoing differentiation to osteoblast-like cells and generating matrix vesicles that serve as a nidus for calcium-phosphate deposition in the vessel wall. Once believed to be a passive process, it is now recognized that vascular calcification is a complex and highly regulated process that involves activation of cellular signaling pathways, circulating inhibitors of calcification, genetic factors, and hormones. This review will examine several of the key mechanisms linking vascular smooth muscle cells to vessel calcification that may be targeted to reduce vessel wall mineralization and, thereby, reduce cardiovascular risk.

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