Fetuin-A and albumin alter cytotoxic effects of calcium phosphate nanoparticles on human vascular smooth muscle cells

Dautova, Yana; Kozlova, Diana; Skepper, Jeremy N.; Epple, Matthias; Bootman, Martin D. and Proudfoot, Diane (2014). Fetuin-A and albumin alter cytotoxic effects of calcium phosphate nanoparticles on human vascular smooth muscle cells. PLoS ONE, 9(5), article no. e97565.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0097565

Abstract

Calcification is a detrimental process in vascular ageing and in diseases such as atherosclerosis and arthritis. In particular, small calcium phosphate (CaP) crystal deposits are associated with inflammation and atherosclerotic plaque de-stabilisation. We previously reported that CaP particles caused human vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) death and that serum reduced the toxic effects of the particles. Here, we found that the serum proteins fetuin-A and albumin (≥1 µM) reduced intracellular Ca2+ elevations and cell death in VSMCs in response to CaP particles. In addition, CaP particles functionalised with fetuin-A, but not albumin, were less toxic than naked CaP particles. Electron microscopic studies revealed that CaP particles were internalised in different ways; via macropinocytosis, membrane invagination or plasma membrane damage, which occurred within 10 minutes of exposure to particles. However, cell death did not occur until approximately 30 minutes, suggesting that plasma membrane repair and survival mechanisms were activated. In the presence of fetuin-A, CaP particle-induced damage was inhibited and CaP/plasma membrane interactions and particle uptake were delayed. Fetuin-A also reduced dissolution of CaP particles under acidic conditions, which may contribute to its cytoprotective effects after CaP particle exposure to VSMCs. These studies are particularly relevant to the calcification observed in blood vessels in patients with kidney disease, where circulating levels of fetuin-A and albumin are low, and in pathological situations where CaP crystal formation outweighs calcification-inhibitory mechanisms.

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