Matrix vesicles induce calcification of recipient vascular smooth muscle cells through multiple signaling pathways

Neal X. Chen, Kalisha D. O'Neill, Sharon M. Moe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


In patients with chronic kidney and end-stage renal diseases, the major risk factor for progression of arterial calcification is the presence of existing (baseline) calcification. Here, we tested whether calcification of arteries is extended from calcified vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) to adjacent normal cells by matrix vesicle–induced alteration of cell signaling. Matrix vesicles isolated from VSMC of rats with chronic kidney disease were co-cultured with VSMCs from normal littermates. Endocytosis of vesicles by recipient cells was confirmed by confocal microscopy. The addition of cellular matrix vesicles with characteristics of exosomes and low fetuin-A content enhanced the calcification of recipient VSMC. Further, only cellular-derived matrix vesicles induced an increase in intracellular calcium ion concentration, NOX1 (NADPH oxidase) and the anti-oxidant superoxide dismutase-2 in recipient normal VSMC. The increase in intracellular calcium ion concentration was due to release from endoplasmic reticulum and partially attributed to the activation of both NOX1 and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK1 and Erk1/2) signaling, since inhibiting both pathways blocked the increase in intracellular calcium ion in recipient VSMC. In contrast, matrix vesicles isolated from the media had no effect on the intracellular calcium ion concentration or MEK1 signaling, and did not induce calcification. However, media matrix vesicles did increase Erk1/2, although not to the level of cellular matrix vesicles, and NOX1 expression. Blockade of NOX activity further inhibited the cellular matrix vesicle–induced accelerated calcification of recipient VSMC, suggesting a potential therapeutic role of such inhibition. Thus, addition of cellular-derived matrix vesicles from calcifying VSMC can accelerate calcification by inducing cell signaling changes and phenotypic alteration of recipient VSMC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-354
Number of pages12
JournalKidney international
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • calcium
  • chronic kidney disease
  • mineral metabolism
  • vascular calcification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology

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