Bone morphogenetic proteins in vascular calcification

Keith A. Hruska, Suresh Mathew, Georges Saab

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


Vascular calcification is a common problem among the elderly and those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes. The process of tunica media vascular calcification in CKD appears to involve a phenotypic change in the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) resulting in cell-mediated mineralization of the extracellular matrix. The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are important regulators in orthotopic bone formation, and their localization at sites of vascular calcification raises the question of their role. In this review, we will discuss the actions of the BMPs in vascular calcification. Although the role of BMP-2 in vascular calcification is not proven, it has been the most studied member of the BMP family in this disease process. The role of BMP-2 may be through inducing osteoblastic differentiation of VSMCs through induction of MSX-2, or by inducing apoptosis of VSMCs, a process thought critical in the initiation of vascular calcification. Additionally, BMP-2 may be related to loss of regulation of the matrix Gla protein. A second BMP, BMP-7, less studied than BMP-2 may have opposing actions in vascular calcification. In postnatal life, BMP-7 is expressed primarily in the kidney, and expression is diminished by renal injury. BMP-7 is an important regulator of skeletal remodeling and the VSMC phenotype. BMP-7 restores skeletal anabolic balance in animal models of CKD with disordered skeletal modeling, also reducing serum phosphate in the process. BMP-7 also reverses vascular calcification in CKD, and reduction in vascular calcification is due, in part, to reduced serum phosphate, an important inducer of VSMC-mediated vascular mineralization and in part to direct actions on the VSMC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 22 2005


  • Bone morphogenetic proteins
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • MSX-2
  • Smad6
  • Vascular calcification
  • Vascular smooth muscle cells


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