American journal of physiology. Cell physiology

Alternatively activated macrophages exhibit an anticalcifying activity dependent on extracellular ATP/pyrophosphate metabolism.

PMID 26936458


Calcium-phosphate deposition (CPD) in atherosclerotic lesions, which begins in middle age and increases with aging, is a major independent predictor of future cardiovascular disease morbi-mortality. Remodeling of atherosclerotic vessels during aging is regulated in part by intimal macrophages, which can polarize to phenotypically distinct populations with distinct functions. This study tested the hypothesis that classically activated macrophages (M1φs) and alternatively activated macrophages (M2φs) differently affect vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) calcification and investigated the underlying mechanisms. We analyzed mouse VSMC-macrophage cocultures using a transwell system. Coculture of VSMCs with M2φs significantly reduced CPD, but coculture with M1φs had no effect. The anticalcific effect of M2φs was associated with elevated amounts of extracellular ATP and pyrophosphate (PPi), two potent inhibitors of CPD, and was lost upon forced hydrolysis of these metabolites. In M2φs and VSMC-M2φs cocultures, analysis of the ectoenzymes that regulate extracellular ATP/PPi metabolism revealed increased mRNA expression and activity of ectoenzyme nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase-1, which synthesizes PPi from ATP, without changes in tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase, which hydrolyzes PPi In conclusion, increased accumulation of extracellular ATP and PPi by alternatively activated mouse M2φs inhibits CPD. These results reveal novel mechanisms underlying macrophage-dependent control of intimal calcification.