Vascular Calcification in Rat Cultured Smooth Muscle Cells: a Role for Nitric Oxide
Alsabeelah, Nimer Fehaid N
The underlying inflammatory storm in renal or diabetic disease may induce expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Similarly, expression of iNOS or nitric oxide (NO) production in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in a calcifying environment, may promote vascular calcification (VC) (Zaragoza et al., 2006). However, emerging data suggests that NO generated by either endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) or iNOS may protect VSMCs from VC (Kanno et al., 2008). Thus, the role of NO and its associated enzymes in the development of VC is unclear. The aim of this study was to identify whether NO produced by iNOS regulates calcification in VSMCs, and to further understanding of potential mechanisms that may mediate the actions of NO/iNOS. A significant and sustained production of NO by iNOS, which peaked at day 3 and declined thereafter was found in rat aortic smooth muscle cells (RASMCs) that were preactivated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 100μg ml-1) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ;100U ml-1) in the presence of calcification buffer (CB) containing calcium chloride (CaCl2; 7mM) and β-glycerophosphate (β-GP; 7mM). This was associated with formation of hydroxyapatite crystals (HA) or calcification plaques, observed via alizarin red staining (ARS) and/or fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) analysis. However, when RASMCs were incubated with the iNOS inhibitor GW274150 at 10 μM, together with LPS + IFN-γ + CB, HA crystal formation was abolished. When RASMCs were pretreated with diethylenetriamine/nitric oxide adduct (NOC 18) at either 30 or 50 μM for an hour prior to addition of CB, to generate NO; calcium levels were elevated leading to form HA crystals. However, the elevation of calcium caused by the presence of NO generated via iNOS, did not result in phosphorylation of mitogen activated protein kinases (p38 MAPK), extracellular signal-regulated kinases (Erks), and protein kinase B. Furthermore, there was a reduction of Runx2 levels (pro-calcific factor) which could be another pro-calcific factor involved in this mechanism. These findings suggest that NO may indeed play a fundamental role in calcification, enhancing mineralisation of smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, the expression of iNOS/ NO appears to be enhanced under conditions that favour calcification and these together may contribute to enhanced calcification with potential detrimental consequences in vivo.