Vascular calcification, which involves the deposition of calcifying particles within the arterial wall, is mediated by atherosclerosis, vascular smooth muscle cell osteoblastic changes, adventitial mesenchymal stem cell osteoblastic differentiation, and insufficiency of the calcification inhibitors. Recent observations implied a role for mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells in vascular calcification. Mesenchymal stem cells reside in the bone marrow and the adventitial layer of arteries. Endothelial progenitor cells that originate from the bone marrow are an important mechanism for repairing injured endothelial cells. Mesenchymal stem cells may differentiate osteogenically by inflammation or by specific stimuli, which can activate calcification. However, the bioactive substances secreted from mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to mitigate vascular calcification by suppressing inflammation, bone morphogenetic protein 2, and the Wingless-INT signal. Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to vascular calcification. Vitamin D supplement has been used to modulate the osteoblastic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells and to lessen vascular injury by stimulating adhesion and migration of endothelial progenitor cells. This narrative review clarifies the role of mesenchymal stem cells and the possible role of vitamin D in the mechanisms of vascular calcification.
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