Raloxifene attenuates Gas6 and apoptosis in experimental aortic valve disease in renal failure

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 May;300(5):H1829-40. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00240.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Renal failure is associated with aortic valve calcification. Using our rat model of uremia-induced reversible aortic valve calcification, we assessed the role of apoptosis and survival pathways in that disease. We also explored the effects of raloxifene, an estrogen receptor modulator, on valvular calcification. Gene array analysis was performed in aortic valves obtained from three groups of rats (n = 7 rats/group): calcified valves obtained from rats fed with uremic diet, valves after calcification resolution following diet cessation, and control. In addition, four groups of rats (n = 10 rats/group) were used to evaluate the effect of raloxifene in aortic valve calcification: three groups as mentioned above and a fourth group fed with the uremic diet that also received daily raloxifene. Evaluation included imaging, histology, and antigen expression analysis. Gene array results showed that the majority of the altered expressed genes were in diet group valves. Most apoptosis-related genes were changed in a proapoptotic direction in calcified valves. Apoptosis and decreases in several survival pathways were confirmed in calcified valves. Resolution of aortic valve calcification was accompanied by decreased apoptosis and upregulation of survival pathways. Imaging and histology demonstrated that raloxifene significantly decreased aortic valve calcification. In conclusion, downregulation of several survival pathways and apoptosis are involved in the pathogenesis of aortic valve calcification. The beneficial effect of raloxifene in valve calcification is related to apoptosis modulation. This novel observation is important for developing remedies for aortic valve calcification in patients with renal failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aortic Valve / metabolism*
  • Aortic Valve / pathology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Calcinosis / metabolism
  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Heart Valve Diseases / metabolism*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / pathology*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / prevention & control
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride / pharmacology*
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Renal Insufficiency / complications*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction
  • Uremia / complications


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • growth arrest-specific protein 6
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases