1. Department of Cardiology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, China.
2. Department of Rheumatology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.
Vascular calcification (VC) is a known predictor of cardiovascular events in patients with atherosclerosis and chronic renal disease. However, the exact relationship between VC and cardiovascular mortality remains unclear. Herein, we investigated the underlying mechanisms between VC progression, arterial stiffness, and cardiac dysfunction. C57BL/6 mice were administered intraperitoneally vitamin D3 (VD3) at a dosage of 35×104 IU/day for 14 days. At day 42, VC extent, artery elasticity, carotid artery blood flow, aorta pulse propagation velocity, cardiac function, and pathological changes were evaluated. Heart apoptosis was detected using TUNEL and immunohistochemistry staining. In vitro, rat cardiomyocytes H9C2 were exposed to media from calcified rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) cultured in calcification medium, and then H9C2 apoptosis and gene expression related to cardiac function were assessed. VD3-treated mice displayed a significant aortic calcification, increased pulse propagation velocity of aortae, and reduced cardiac function. Aortae showed increased calcification and elastolysis, with increased heart apoptosis. Hearts demonstrated higher levels of ANP, BNP, MMP2, and lower levels of bcl2/bax. Moreover, calcified rat VSMC media induced H9C2 apoptosis and upregulated genes expression linked to cardiac dysfunction. Our data provide evidence that VC accelerates cardiac dysfunction, partially by inducing cardiomyocytes apoptosis.
Keywords: vascular calcification, cardiac dysfunction, artery stiffness, apoptosis, vitamin D3