Osteocalcin (OC), an osteoblast-derived regulator of metabolic processes, and circulating early endothelial progenitor cells (EPC, CD34 - /CD133 + /KDR +) expressing OC (OC +) are potential candidates linking bone metabolism and the vasculature and might be involved in vascular atherosclerotic calcification. This study aimed at assessing the association of circulating levels of different OC forms and of EPCs count with disease severity in patients with documented coronary atherosclerosis (CAD).
Patients (n = 59) undergoing coronary angiography were divided, according to stenosis severity, into (1) early coronary atherosclerosis (ECA) (n = 22), and (2) late coronary atherosclerosis (LCA) (n = 37). Total OC (TOC), carboxylated OC (cOC), undercarboxylated OC (unOC) were quantified by ELISA. EPC OC + count was assessed by flow cytometry.
EPC OC + counts showed significant differences between ECA and LCA groups. unOC and unOC/TOC ratio were inversely correlated with EPC OC + count. A significant decrease in TOC and unOC plasma levels was associated with higher cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) number. EPC OC + count was correlated with LDL-C, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, with a greater significance in the LCA group. No association between the different forms of circulating OC (TOC, ucOC, cOC) and severity of CAD was found.
This study showed a significant association between EPCs (CD34 - /CD133 + /KDR + /OC +), CAD severity and CVRFs, suggesting an active role for EPC OC + in the development of CAD. An inverse correlation between TOC, ucOC, and number of CVRFs was observed, suggesting that OC, regardless of its carboxylation status, may be developed as a further cardiovascular risk biomarker.

© 2022. The Author(s).