Vascular calcification and aortic fibrosis: A bifunctional role for osteopontin in diabetic arteriosclerosis

Jian Su Shao, Oscar L. Sierra, Richard Cohen, Robert P. Mecham, Attila Kovacs, James Wang, Kathryn Distelhorst, Abraham Behrmann, Linda R. Halstead, Dwight A. Towler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective-: Calcification and fibrosis reduce vascular compliance in arteriosclerosis. To better understand the role of osteopontin (OPN), a multifunctional protein upregulated in diabetic arteries, we evaluated contributions of OPN in male low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-/-mice fed a high-fat diet. Methods and results-: OPN had no impact on high-fat diet-induced hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, or body composition. However, OPN-/-;LDLR-/-mice exhibited an altered time-course of aortic calcium accrual-reduced during initiation but increased with progression-versus OPN+/+;LDLR-/-controls. Collagen accumulation, chondroid metaplasia, and mural thickness were increased in aortas of OPN-/-;LDLR-/-mice. Aortic compliance was concomitantly reduced. Vascular reexpression of OPN (SM22-OPN transgene) reduced aortic Col2A1 and medial chondroid metaplasia but did not affect atherosclerotic calcification, Col1A1 expression, collagen accumulation, or arterial stiffness. Dosing with the proinflammatory OPN fragment SVVYGLR upregulated aortic Wnt and osteogenic gene expression, increased aortic β-catenin, and restored early-phase aortic calcification in OPN-/-;LDLR-/-mice. Conclusion-: OPN exerts stage-specific roles in arteriosclerosis in LDLR-/-mice. Actions phenocopied by the OPN metabolite SVVYGLR promote osteogenic calcification processes with disease initiation. OPN limits vascular chondroid metaplasia, endochondral mineralization, and collagen accumulation with progression. Complete deficiency yields a net increase in arteriosclerotic disease, reducing aortic compliance and conduit vessel function in LDLR-/-mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1833
Number of pages13
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • calcification
  • fibrosis
  • matrix
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • transgenic models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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