Themechanismof vascular calcification in CKDis not understood fully, butmay involve collagen deposition in the arterial wall upon osteo/chondrocytic transformation of vascular smoothmuscle cells (VSMCs). Increased levels of circulating angiopoietin-2 correlate with markers of CKD progression and angiopoietin-2 regulate inflammatory responses, including intercellular and vascular adhesion and recruitment of VSMCs. Here, we investigate the potential role of angiopoietin-2 in the pathogenesis of arterial stiffness associated with CKD. In a cohort of 416 patients with CKD, the plasma level of angiopoietin-2 correlated independently with the severity of arterial stiffness assessed bypulse wave velocity. Inmice subjected to 5/6 subtotal nephrectomyor unilateral ureteral obstruction, plasma levels of angiopoietin-2 also increased. Angiopoietin-2 expression markedly increased in tubular epithelial cells of fibrotic kidneys but decreased in other tissues, including aorta and lung, after 5/6 subtotal nephrectomy. Expression of collagen and profibrotic genes in aortic VSMCs increased inmice after 5/6 subtotal nephrectomy and inmice producing human angiopoietin-2. Angiopoietin-2 stimulated endothelial expression of chemokines and adhesion molecules for monocytes, increased Ly6Clow macrophages in aorta, and increased the expression of the profibrotic cytokine TGF-β1 in aortic endothelial cells and Ly6Clow macrophages. Angiopoietin-2 blockade attenuated expression of monocyte chemokines, profibrotic cytokines, and collagen in aorta of mice after 5/6 subtotal nephrectomy. This study identifies angiopoietin-2 as a link between kidney fibrosis and arterial stiffness. Targeting angiopoietin-2 to attenuate inflammation and collagen expression may provide a novel therapy for cardiovascular disease in CKD.
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