Osteoprotegerin Inhibits Artery Calcification Induced by Warfarin and by Vitamin D
The present experiments were carried out to test the hypothesis that arterial calcification is linked to bone resorption by determining whether the selective inhibition of bone resorption with osteoprotegerin will inhibit arterial calcification. In the first test, arterial calcification was induced by treating 22-day-old male rats with warfarin, a procedure that inhibits the γ-carboxylation of matrix Gla protein and causes extensive calcification of the arterial media. Compared with rats treated for 1 week with warfarin alone, rats treated with warfarin plus osteoprotegerin at a dose of 1 mg/kg per day had dramatically reduced alizarin red staining for calcification in the aorta and in the carotid, hepatic, mesenteric, renal, and femoral arteries, and they had 90% lower levels of calcium and phosphate in the abdominal aorta (P<0.001) and in tracheal ring cartilage (P<0.01). More rapid arterial calcification was induced by treating 49-day-old male rats with toxic doses of vitamin D. Treatment for 96 hours with vitamin D caused widespread alizarin red staining for calcification in the aorta and the femoral, mesenteric, hepatic, renal, and carotid arteries, and osteoprotegerin completely prevented calcification in each of these arteries and reduced the levels of calcium and phosphate in the abdominal aorta to control levels (P<0.001). Treatment with vitamin D also caused extensive calcification in the lungs, trachea, kidneys, stomach, and small intestine, and treatment with osteoprotegerin reduced or prevented calcification in each of these sites. Measurement of serum levels of cross-linked N-teleopeptides showed that osteoprotegerin dramatically reduced bone resorption activity in each of these experiments (P<0.001). Therefore, we conclude that doses of osteoprotegerin that inhibit bone resorption are able to potently inhibit the calcification of arteries that is induced by warfarin treatment and by vitamin D treatment. These results support the hypothesis that arterial calcification is linked to bone resorption.