SGK1 induces vascular smooth muscle cell calcification through NF-κB signaling


  • J. Voelkl
  • T.T. Luong
  • R. Tuffaha
  • K. Musculus
  • T. Auer
  • X. Lian
  • C. Daniel
  • D. Zickler
  • B. Boehme
  • M. Sacherer
  • B. Metzler
  • D. Kuhl
  • M. Gollasch
  • K. Amann
  • D.N. Müller
  • B. Pieske
  • F. Lang
  • I. Alesutan


  • Journal of Clinical Investigation


  • J Clin Invest 128 (7): 3024-3040


  • Medial vascular calcification, associated with enhanced mortality in chronic kidney disease (CKD), is fostered by osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Here, we describe that serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1) was upregulated in VSMCs under calcifying conditions. In primary human aortic VSMCs, overexpression of constitutively active SGK1S422D, but not inactive SGK1K127N, upregulated osteo-/chondrogenic marker expression and activity, effects pointing to increased osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation. SGK1S422D induced nuclear translocation and increased transcriptional activity of NF-κB. Silencing or pharmacological inhibition of IKK abrogated the osteoinductive effects of SGK1S422D. Genetic deficiency, silencing, and pharmacological inhibition of SGK1 dissipated phosphate-induced calcification and osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation of VSMCs. Aortic calcification, stiffness, and osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation in mice following cholecalciferol overload were strongly reduced by genetic knockout or pharmacological inhibition of Sgk1 by EMD638683. Similarly, Sgk1 deficiency blunted vascular calcification in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice after subtotal nephrectomy. Treatment of human aortic smooth muscle cells with serum from uremic patients induced osteo-/chondrogenic transdifferentiation, effects ameliorated by EMD638683. These observations identified SGK1 as a key regulator of vascular calcification. SGK1 promoted vascular calcification, at least partly, via NF-κB activation. Inhibition of SGK1 may, thus, reduce the burden of vascular calcification in CKD.