Vascular calcification in advanced atherosclerosis is frequently associated with diabetes, and is a predictor of future cardiovascular events. To investigate the molecular mechanisms of vascular calcification, we examined whether advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) formed at an accelerated rate under diabetes induce the osteoblastic differentiation of pericytes, a mesenchymal progenitor. First, von Kossa staining demonstrated that AGE significantly increased the number of calcified nodules in a bovine pericyte culture. AGE were also found to induce calcium accumulation in the pericyte monolayer in time- and dose-dependent manners. Second, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction revealed that AGE increased the pericyte levels of mRNAs coding for alkaline phosphatase and osteopontin, the representative markers for early and late osteoblastic differentiation, respectively. Alkaline phosphatase activity was actually enhanced by AGE. The results suggest that AGE have the ability to induce the osteoblatic differentiation of pericytes, which would contribute to the development of vascular calcification in diabetes.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.