Angiogenesis and pericytes in the initiation of ectopic calcification

G. D M Collett, A. E. Canfield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Ectopic calcification of blood vessels, heart valves, and skeletal muscle is a major clinical problem. There is now good evidence that angiogenesis is associated with ectopic calcification in these tissues and that it is necessary, but not sufficient, for calcification to occur. Angiogenesis may regulate ectopic calcification in several ways. First, many angiogenic factors are now known to exert both direct and indirect effects on bone and cartilage formation. Second, cytokines released by endothelial cells can induce the differentiation of osteoprogenitor cells. Third, the new blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrients to support the growing bone. Finally, the new blood vessels can serve as a conduit for osteoprogenitor cells. These osteoprogenitor cells may be derived from the circulation or from pericytes that are present in the neovessels themselves. Indeed, there is now compelling evidence that pericytes can differentiate into osteoblasts and chondrocytes both in vitro and in vivo. Other vascular cells, including adventitial myofibroblasts, calcifying vascular cells, smooth muscle cells, and valvular interstitial cells, have also been shown to exhibit multilineage potential in vitro. Although these cells share many properties with pericytes, the precise relationship between them is not known. Furthermore, it still remains to be determined whether all or some of these cells contribute to the ectopic calcification observed in vivo. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that link angiogenesis, pericytes, and ectopic calcification should provide a basis for development of therapeutic strategies to treat or arrest this clinically significant condition. © 2005 American Heart Association, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)930-938
    Number of pages8
    JournalCirculation research
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2005


    • Angiogenesis
    • Atherosclerosis
    • Calcification
    • Pericytes
    • Smooth muscle cells


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