Diet-induced diabetes activates an osteogenic gene regulatory program in the aortas of low density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice

Dwight A. Towler, Miri Bidder, Tammy Latifi, Trey Coleman, Clay F. Semenkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

227 Scopus citations


Vascular calcification is common in people with diabetes and its presence predicts premature mortality. To clarify the underlying mechanisms, we used low density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (LDLR-/-) mice to study vascular calcification in the ascending aorta. LDLR -/- mice on a chow diet did not develop obesity, diabetes, atheroma, or vascular calcification. In contrast, LDLR -/- mice on high fat diets containing cholesterol developed obesity, severe hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinemic diabetes, and aortic atheroma. A high fat diet without cholesterol also induced obesity and diabetes, but caused only moderate hyperlipidemia and did not result in significant aortic atheroma formation. Regardless of cholesterol content, high fat diets induced mineralization of the proximal aorta (assessed by yon Kossa staining) and promoted aortic expression of Msx2 and Msx1, genes encoding homeodomain transcription factors that regulate mineralization and osseous differentiation programs in the developing skull. Osteopontin (Opn), an osteoblast matrix protein gene also expressed by activated macrophages, was up-regulated in the aorta by these high fat diets. In situ hybridization showed that peri-aortic adventitial cells in high fat-fed mice express Msx2. Opn was also detected in this adventitial cell population, but in addition was expressed by aortic vascular smooth muscle cells and macrophages of the intimal atheroma. High fat diets associated with hyperinsulinemic diabetes activate an aortic osteoblast transcriptional regulatory program that is independent of intimal atheroma formation. The spatial pattern of Msx2 and Opn gene expression strongly suggests that vascular calcification, thought to be limited to the media, is an active process that can originate from an osteoprogenitor cell population in the adventitia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30427-30434
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 13 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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