Macrophages Promote Aortic Valve Cell Calcification and Alter STAT3 Splicing

Michael A. Raddatz, Tessa Huffstater, Matthew R. Bersi, Bradley I. Reinfeld, Matthew Z. Madden, Sabrina E. Booton, W. Kimryn Rathmell, Jeffrey C. Rathmell, Brian R. Lindman, Meena S. Madhur, W. David Merryman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Macrophages have been described in calcific aortic valve disease, but it is unclear if they promote or counteract calcification. We aimed to determine how macrophages are involved in calcification using the Notch1+/-model of calcific aortic valve disease. Approach and Results: Macrophages in wild-type and Notch1+/-murine aortic valves were characterized by flow cytometry. Macrophages in Notch1+/-aortic valves had increased expression of MHCII (major histocompatibility complex II). We then used bone marrow transplants to test if differences in Notch1+/-macrophages drive disease. Notch1+/-mice had increased valve thickness, macrophage infiltration, and proinflammatory macrophage maturation regardless of transplanted bone marrow genotype. In vitro approaches confirm that Notch1+/-aortic valve cells promote macrophage invasion as quantified by migration index and proinflammatory phenotypes as quantified by Ly6C and CCR2 positivity independent of macrophage genotype. Finally, we found that macrophage interaction with aortic valve cells promotes osteogenic, but not dystrophic, calcification and decreases abundance of the STAT3β isoform. Conclusions: This study reveals that Notch1+/-aortic valve disease involves increased macrophage recruitment and maturation driven by altered aortic valve cell secretion, and that increased macrophage recruitment promotes osteogenic calcification and alters STAT3 splicing. Further investigation of STAT3 and macrophage-driven inflammation as therapeutic targets in calcific aortic valve disease is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E153-E165
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • STAT3 transcription factor
  • aortic valve
  • hematopoietic system
  • inflammation
  • macrophages
  • pathologic calcification


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