Background: Vascular calcification often occurs in patients with uremia. As osteopontin (OPN) is not only involved in the physiological but also the pathological calcification of tissues, OPN may be associated with the pathogenesis of aortic calcification in hemodialysis (HD) patients.
Methods: We examined the expression of OPN in atherosclerotic aortas of HD patients. In addition, we performed a prospective longitudinal study by using CT scans to detect aortic calcifications and by measuring the plasma OPN concentration by ELISA in HD patients (20 men, 16 women; mean age 55.2 +/- 21.3 years) and in healthy volunteers (18 men, 17 women; mean age 54.0 +/- 13.2 years).
Results: By immunohistochemical staining, OPN was abundantly localized in atherosclerotic plaques of HD patients. The macrophages surrounding the atheromatous plaques were identified as the OPN-expressing cells. We furthermore found that the concentration of soluble plasma OPN was significantly higher in HD patients as compared with the concentrations in age-matched healthy volunteers (837.3 +/- 443.2 vs. 315.1 +/- 117.4 ng/ml, p < 0.01). The OPN concentration was positively correlated with the aortic calcification index in HD patients (r = 0.749, p < 0.01).
Conclusion: These data suggest that OPN, secreted by macrophages, plays a role in the calcification of atheromatous plaques in HD patients.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel