Basic calcium phosphate crystals stimulate the endocytotic activity of cells - Inhibition by anti-calcification agents

Yubo Sun, Xiao Rong Zeng, Leonor Wenger, Herman S. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Pathological calcifications are associated with many medical conditions including diabetes, breast cancer, and crystals-associated osteoarthritis. The deposition of calcium-containing crystals on cells induces detrimental cellular effects and speeds up the progression of associated diseases. We carried out the present study to test the hypotheses that calcium-containing crystals may stimulate the influx of other molecules existing in the extracellular fluid disturbing normal molecular signaling and that anti-calcification agent will inhibit such endocytotic process. We found that basic calcium phosphate (BCP) crystals greatly stimulated the endocytotic activity of cells by rendering the cells more permeable and that the anti-calcification agent phosphocitrate and several others inhibited the crystals-mediated endocytosis. This is the first study reporting that the endocytotic activity of cells is affected by BCP crystals and that such endocytotic activity can be inhibited by anti-calcification agents. Since calcium-containing crystals are associated with many human diseases and in many circumstances are associated with apoptotic bodies, extracellular and matrix vesicles where DNA fragments, small peptides, and minerals are released into extracellular space, the findings reported here are important for our understanding of the complex biological effects and the potential pathological role of calcium-containing crystals in crystals-associated diseases, and for the development of disease modifying agents as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1059
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 26 2003


  • Breast cancer
  • Calcification
  • Calcification inhibitor
  • Calcium-containing crystals
  • Endocytosis
  • Osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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