Oxidative stress by Ca2+ overload is critical for phosphate-induced vascular calcification

Nhung Thi Nguyen, Tuyet Thi Nguyen, Dat Da Ly, Jing Bo Xia, Xu Feng Qi, In Kyu Lee, Seung Kuy Cha, Kyu Sang Park

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Hyperphosphatemia is the primary risk factor for vascular calcification, which is closely associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Recent evidence showed that oxidative stress by high inorganic phosphate (Pi) mediates calcific changes in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). However, intracellular signaling responsible for Pi-induced oxidative stress remains unclear. Here, we investigated molecular mechanisms of Pi-induced oxidative stress related with intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) disturbance, which is critical for calcification of VSMCs. VSMCs isolated from rat thoracic aorta or A7r5 cells were incubated with high Pi-containing medium. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and mammalian target of rapamycin were activated by high Pi that was required for vascular calcification. High Pi upregulated expressions of type III sodium-phosphate cotransporters PiT-1 and -2 and stimulated their trafficking to the plasma membrane. Interestingly, high Pi increased [Ca2+]i exclusively dependent on extracellular Na+ and Ca2+ as well as PiT-1/2 abundance. Furthermore, high-Pi induced plasma membrane depolarization mediated by PiT-1/2. Pretreatment with verapamil, as a voltage-gated Ca2+ channel (VGCC) blocker, inhibited Pi-induced [Ca2+]i elevation, oxidative stress, ERK activation, and osteogenic differentiation. These protective effects were reiterated by extracellular Ca2+-free condition, intracellular Ca2+ chelation, or suppression of oxidative stress. Mitochondrial superoxide scavenger also effectively abrogated ERK activation and osteogenic differentiation of VSMCs by high Pi. Taking all these together, we suggest that high Pi activates depolarization-triggered Ca2+ influx via VGCC, and subsequent [Ca2+]i increase elicits oxidative stress and osteogenic differentiation. PiT-1/2 mediates Pi-induced [Ca2+]i overload and oxidative stress but in turn, PiT-1/2 is upregulated by consequences of these alterations. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The novel findings of this study are type III sodium-phosphate cotransporters PiT-1 and -2-dependent depolarization by high Pi, leading to Ca2+ entry via voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in vascular smooth muscle cells. Cytosolic Ca2+ increase and subsequent oxidative stress are indispensable for osteogenic differentiation and calcification. In addition, plasmalemmal abundance of PiT-1/2 relies on Ca2+ overload and oxidative stress, establishing a positive feedback loop. Identification of mechanistic components of a vicious cycle could provide novel therapeutic strategies against vascular calcification in hyperphosphatemic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1302-H1312
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 27

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 the American Physiological Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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