Atherosclerosis and vascular calcification often co-exist in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Although the former has been recently recognized as an active inflammatory process, atherosclerosis-related calcification of the intima is still viewed as a passive epiphenomenon. Recent experimental data showed that ossification of the internal vascular wall might also be an active inflammatory process interrelated to atherosclerosis. Factors like RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB ligand), RANK and osteoprotegerin modulate vascular calcification and at the same time are involved in the process of atherosclerosis. Moreover, basic calcium phosphate crystals could interact with and activate monocytes-macrophages that produce proinflammatory cytokines capable of initiating - via endothelial activation and leukocyte adhesion - the atherosclerotic process. Thus, vascular calcification might be an active player and not simply an epiphenomenon in atherosclerosis. Should the above-mentioned data be confirmed in future studies, calcification of the internal vascular wall and atherosclerosis might be viewed and treated as tightly interconnected and linked by inflammation processes in CKD patients.
Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.