Mechanisms of vascular calcification in CKD-evidence for premature ageing?

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2013 Nov;9(11):661-70. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2013.176. Epub 2013 Sep 10.


Ageing is a potent, independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Calcification of the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) layer of the vessel media is a hallmark of vascular ageing. Young patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) exhibit an extremely high cardiovascular mortality, equivalent to that seen in octogenarians in the general population. Even children on dialysis develop accelerated medial vascular calcification and arterial stiffening, leading to the suggestion that patients with CKD exhibit a 'premature ageing' phenotype. It is now well documented that uraemic toxins, particularly those associated with dysregulated mineral metabolism, can drive VSMC damage and phenotypic changes that promote vascular calcification; epidemiological data suggest that some of these same risk factors associate with cardiovascular mortality in the aged general population. Importantly, emerging evidence suggests that uraemic toxins may promote DNA damage, a key factor driving cellular ageing, and moreover, that these ageing mechanisms may reiterate some of those seen in patients with genetically induced progeric syndromes caused by nuclear lamina disruption. This new knowledge should pave the way for the development of novel therapies that target tissue-specific ageing mechanisms to treat vascular decline in CKD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging, Premature / etiology
  • Aging, Premature / mortality
  • Aging, Premature / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Calcification / etiology
  • Vascular Calcification / mortality
  • Vascular Calcification / physiopathology*