Exogenous BMP7 in aortae of rats with chronic uremia ameliorates expression of profibrotic genes, but does not reverse established vascular calcification

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Eva Gravesen, Maria Lerche Mace, Anders Nordholm, Jacob Hofman-Bang, Keith Hruska, Carsten Haagen Nielsen, Andreas Kjær, Klaus Olgaard, Ewa Lewin

Hyperphosphatemia and vascular calcification are frequent complications of chronic renal failure and bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) has been shown to protect against development of vascular calcification in uremia. The present investigation examined the potential reversibility of established uremic vascular calcification by treatment of uremic rats with BMP7. A control model of isogenic transplantation of a calcified aorta from uremic rats into healthy littermates examined whether normalization of the uremic environment reversed vascular calcification. Uremia and vascular calcification were induced in rats by 5/6 nephrectomy, high phosphate diet and alfacalcidol treatment. After 14 weeks severe vascular calcification was present and rats were allocated to BMP7, vehicle or aorta transplantation. BMP7 treatment caused a significant decrease of plasma phosphate to 1.56 ± 0.17 mmol/L vs 2.06 ± 0.34 mmol/L in the vehicle group even in the setting of uremia and high phosphate diet. Uremia and alfacalcidol resulted in an increase in aortic expression of genes related to fibrosis, osteogenic transformation and extracellular matrix calcification, and the BMP7 treatment resulted in a decrease in the expression of profibrotic genes. The total Ca-content of the aorta was however unchanged both in the abdominal aorta: 1.9 ± 0.6 μg/mg tissue in the vehicle group vs 2.2 ± 0.6 μg/mg tissue in the BMP7 group and in the thoracic aorta: 71 ± 27 μg/mg tissue in the vehicle group vs 54 ± 18 μg/mg tissue in the BMP7 group. Likewise, normalization of the uremic environment by aorta transplantation had no effect on the Ca-content of the calcified aorta: 16.3 ± 0.6 μg/mg tissue pre-transplantation vs 15.9 ± 2.3 μg/mg tissue post-transplantation. Aortic expression of genes directly linked to extracellular matrix calcification was not affected by BMP7 treatment, which hypothetically might explain persistent high Ca-content in established vascular calcification. The present results highlight the importance of preventing the development of vascular calcification in chronic kidney disease. Once established, vascular calcification persists even in the setting when hyperphosphatemia or the uremic milieu is abolished.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0190820
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Animals, Aorta/drug effects, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7/pharmacology, Chronic Disease, Fibrosis, Gene Expression Regulation/drug effects, Male, Phosphates/blood, Rats, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Uremia/drug therapy, Vascular Calcification/drug therapy, X-Ray Microtomography

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