AUG 20, 2019 8:39 AM PDT

Discovery of Bone Bits in Blood may Help Explain Vascular Calcification

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Our teeth and bones contain 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies, and the rest is dissolved in the blood. Over time, calcium can build up in various tissues in the body, and cause them to harden in a process called calcification. This can be part of normal processes in the body, but may also be a sign of a disorder.

Rhonda Prisby, associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. / Credit: The University of Texas at Arlington

Researcher Rhonda Prisby, an associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at The University of Texas at Arlington took a close look at the blood vessels that lie in bone marrow, which can begin calcifying and turning to bone as people age. When she studied these blood vessels in detail, she found particles that were like bits of bone in the circulation, and they have sharp edges.

"By examining seemingly unrelated images and linking the details of them together, I was able to posit the presence of bone-like particles in the blood," Prisby explained. "In fact, some of the ossified particles are large enough to clog the smallest blood vessels in the vascular tree."

An amputated leg from a 68‐year‐old man, human blood samples, and rodents were all examined. The study, which suggests that these bone-like particles could be contributing to the development of diseases like heart attack, stroke and vascular calcification, has been reported in Microcirculation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 735,000 people have a heart attack every year. Heart disease is to blame for nearly one in four deaths in the United States - around 610,000 people annually. Learn more about heart disease from the videos. In the next ten years, about twenty percent of the world's population will be age 65 or older. The elderly population commonly experiences vascular calcification, and while we know it's linked to aging, the mechanisms driving the process are not well understood. This work may help us learn more.

"Some of the ossified particles have sharp tips and edges that could damage the lining of blood vessels," said Prisby. "This damage could initiate events leading to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup), which can restrict blood flow over time."

Now that we know about these boney bits moving through the circulation, we can learn more about them. They may one day be useful as an early warning of disease or a target for therapeutic interventions.

"When looking for etiologies related to vascular calcification, heart attack and/or stroke, perhaps we should consider if and how ossified particles contribute to these diseases," noted Prisby. "My lab will examine these possibilities."


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via University of Texas at Arlington, Microcirculation

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
APR 03, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 03, 2020
Physical Forces Can Change How Genes Are Expressed
Less than a millisecond after a cell is stretched out, genes are activated, which will result in the production of prote ...
APR 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
APR 09, 2020
A Model of Spinal Development Provides Insight Into Disease
The spinal column develops from a row of structures called somites, which bud off sequentially in a process called somit ...
APR 13, 2020
Immunology
APR 13, 2020
Macrophages: An Origin Story
Macrophages are well-known defense cells of the immune system, responsible for utilizing the cellular breakdown process ...
APR 26, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 26, 2020
Does Poor Sleep Lead to Obesity, or is the Opposite True?
For many years, researchers have been aware of the link between obesity and poor sleep or a lack of sleep. But what come ...
APR 30, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
APR 30, 2020
Cell Movement Increases as Interactions Increase, Contrary to Assumptions
New research has changed what we know about how cells interact with each other.
MAY 17, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 17, 2020
Potential Treatment for Brain and Spinal Cord Injury is IDed
Treatment options are limited for people that have suffered swelling-inducing injuries to their brain and spinal cord. N ...
Loading Comments...