Dystrophic mineralization remains the leading cause of stenotic or regurgitant failure in native human and porcine bioprosthetic heart valves. We hypothesized that cellular expression of noncollagenous matrix proteins (osteopontin, osteocalcin, and osteonectin) that regulate skeletal mineralization may orchestrate valvular calcification. Porcine bioprosthetic heart valves and native human heart valves obtained during replacement surgery were analyzed for cells, matrix proteins that regulate mineralization, and vessels. Cell accumulation and calcification were correlated for both valve types (rho = 0.75, P = 0.01, native; rho = 0.42, P = 0.08, bioprosthetic). Osteopontin expression correlated with cell accumulation (rho = 0.58, P = 0.04) and calcification (rho = 0.52, P = 0.06) for bioprosthetic valves. Osteocalcin expression correlated with calcification (rho = 0.77, P = 0.04) and cell accumulation (rho = 0.69, P = 0.07) in native valves. Comparisons of calcified versus noncalcified native and bioprosthetic valves for averaged total matrix protein mRNA signal score revealed increased noncollagenous proteins mRNA levels in calcified valves (P = 0.07, group I vs. group II; P = 0.02, group III vs. group IV). When stratified according to positive versus negative mRNA signal status, both calcified bioprosthetic valves (P = 0.03) and calcified native valves (P = 0.01) were significantly more positive for noncollagenous proteins mRNA than their noncalcified counterparts. Local cell-associated expression of proteins regulating mineralization suggests a highly coordinated mechanism of bioprosthetic and native valve calcification analogous to physiologic bone mineralization. Modulation of cellular infiltration or cellular expression of matrix proteins that regulate mineralization, may offer an effective therapeutic approach to the prevention of valve failure secondary to calcification.
S S Srivatsa, P J Harrity, P B Maercklein, L Kleppe, J Veinot, W D Edwards, C M Johnson, L A Fitzpatrick