Abstract 303: CD44 Activation Protects Human Sclerotic-derived Valvular Interstitial Cells from Calcification
Introduction. The activation of Valvular Interstitial Cells (VIC) towards an osteoblast-like phenotype is a cellular hallmark of pathological progression towards Aortic Stenosis (AS). In recent years several clinical trials have failed to halt or revert the progression of this prevalent disease. The ability to prevent end-stage AS requires the understanding of the molecular events associated with the early phase of valve degeneration, a condition known as Aortic Sclerosis (ASc). In the last few years the transmembrane receptor CD44 has been studied as a putative molecule for cardiovascular drug therapy. We reported that the functional interaction between CD44 and one of its ligand, Osteopontin (OPN), protects vascular smooth muscle cells from calcification. More recently, we demonstrated that sclerotic tissues show increased expression of Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 (BMP4) and BMP4 directly stimulates osteoblast-like transdifferentiation and calcification of VICs. Therefore we hypothesized a direct role of CD44 activation in protecting human Aortic Sclerosis-derived VICs from calcification.
Methods. Human VICs from Control, ASc, and AS (n=5 each group) were isolated. Histological, cellular and molecular analysis, and in situ Proximity Ligation Assay were used to investigate the role of CD44 and OPN in VIC calcification. BMP4 treatments were used to promote VIC activation. Osteoblast-like transdifferentiation was analyzed using Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) expression.
Results. CD44 and OPN, as well as their functional binding, were increased in sclerotic and stenotic tissues compared to healthy controls in vitro and ex vivo. CD44-OPN binding prevented in vitro calcification induced by inorganic phosphate on human ASc-derived VICs. A neutralizing antibody against CD44, under BMP4 treatments, promoted calcium deposition along with increased expression of OPN and ALP.
Conclusion. Our results generate an important insight into the molecular mechanism of VIC calcification. We proved that CD44-OPN direct interaction inhibits calcification of Aortic Sclerosis-derived VICs, suggesting that CD44 activation could have a protective role against VIC osteoblast-like transdifferentiation and calcification in the early stage of the disease.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.