Identification and characterization of calcifying valve cells from human and canine aortic valves

J Heart Valve Dis. 1999 May;8(3):254-60.


Background and aim of the study: Cardiac valve calcification is the predominant pathology in patients needing valve replacement. The aim of this study was to determine if aortic valve cells calcify spontaneously and, if so, to characterize the nodular complex and response to growth factors.

Methods: Aortic valves were obtained from humans undergoing surgical valve replacement, and from female dogs. The valvular endothelium was removed and explants cultured in medium.

Results: A population of valvular interstitial cells spontaneously formed distinct calcified nodules containing hydroxyapatite within two to three weeks in canine and within six weeks in human aortic valves. The nodules contained an inner ring of dead cells surrounded by an outer ring of living cells. Cells associated with nodules had osteoblast-like characteristics and stained positively for extracellular bone matrix proteins. Incubating canine cells with potential calcifying stimuli tested the stimulus for calcification. The rate of nodule formation was increased with transforming growth factor beta-1 (+25 nodules), 25-hydroxycholesterol (+9 nodules) and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (+4 nodules) as compared with vehicle control (+3 nodules) over 25 days.

Conclusions: We identified a population of valvular interstitial cells with osteoblast-like characteristics that spontaneously form calcific nodules in cell culture. In addition, the rate of calcific nodule formation was increased with transforming growth factor beta-1 and 25-hydroxycholesterol. Further study of these 'calcifying valve cells' may yield a new in vitro model for testing therapy aimed at preventing calcific valve stenosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aortic Valve / cytology*
  • Calcinosis / pathology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry