The Interplay of WNT and PPARγ Signaling in Vascular Calcification
Vascular calcification (VC), the ectopic deposition of calcium phosphate crystals in the vessel wall, is one of the primary contributors to cardiovascular death. The pathology of VC is determined by vascular topography, pre-existing diseases, and our genetic heritage. VC evolves from inflammation, mediated by macrophages, and from the osteochondrogenic transition of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in the atherosclerotic plaque. This pathologic transition partly resembles endochondral
... endochondral ossification, involving the chronologically ordered activation of the β-catenin-independent and -dependent Wingless and Int-1 (WNT) pathways and the termination of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) signal transduction. Several atherosclerotic plaque studies confirmed the differential activity of PPARγ and the WNT signaling pathways in VC. Notably, the actively regulated β-catenin-dependent and -independent WNT signals increase the osteochondrogenic transformation of VSMC through the up-regulation of the osteochondrogenic transcription factors SRY-box transcription factor 9 (SOX9) and runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2). In addition, we have reported studies showing that WNT signaling pathways may be antagonized by PPARγ activation via the expression of different families of WNT inhibitors and through its direct interaction with β-catenin. In this review, we summarize the existing knowledge on WNT and PPARγ signaling and their interplay during the osteochondrogenic differentiation of VSMC in VC. Finally, we discuss knowledge gaps on this interplay and its possible clinical impact.