Calcification of the medial layer of the internal thoracic artery in diabetic patients: relevance of glycoxidation

J Vasc Res. Nov-Dec 2003;40(6):567-74. doi: 10.1159/000075807. Epub 2003 Dec 23.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of glycoxidation in the calcification of the internal thoracic artery (ITA) in diabetes mellitus (DM).

Methods: ITA samples were obtained from 17 patients with type 2 DM (age 62.9 +/- 10.5 years) and 12 age-matched, nondiabetic patients (age 62.5 +/- 10.2 years) who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting. These samples were analyzed histopathologically and assessed for calcification by von Kossa staining and for glycoxidation by immunohistochemistry using anti-N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML) antibody. Morphometric evaluation of calcification of the medial layer, intimal thickness and intima-to-media ratio was performed using NIH image software. To evaluate the mechanism of the interaction between calcification and glycoxidation, we developed an in vitro model of calcification of collagen that was chemically modified by glucose, glutaraldehyde or epoxy compound. The calcium-binding activity of these collagens was determined in hydrolysates using atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

Results: ITAs of both diabetic and nondiabetic patients were free of atherosclerosis, and no differences were found between the two groups with regard to intimal thickness and intima-to-media ratio. Areas of calcification were noticed in both groups in the tunica media, but not in the tunica intima. Calcium deposits were localized within the extracellular matrix, which was immunohistochemically positive for CML. The extent of medial layer calcification was significantly greater in diabetic patients than nondiabetic subjects, but was independent of known risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity and history of old myocardial infarction. The binding activity of collagen was time-dependently increased with in vitro incubation of glucose. A significant increase in the calcium-binding ability was observed in glucose- and glutaraldehyde-modified collagens, but not in epoxy compound-modified collagen.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that glycoxidative modification of the extracellular matrix, in particular collagen, of the vascular wall may enhance the development of ITA calcification in diabetic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcinosis / epidemiology
  • Calcinosis / metabolism*
  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Risk Factors
  • Thoracic Arteries / metabolism*
  • Thoracic Arteries / pathology


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Collagen
  • Calcium