VC (vascular calcification) is highly prevalent in patients with CKD (chronic kidney disease), but its mechanism is multifactorial and incompletely understood. In addition to increased traditional risk factors, CKD patients also have a number of non-traditional cardiovascular risk factors, which may play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of arterial calcification, such as duration of dialysis and disorders of mineral metabolism. The transformation of vascular smooth muscle cells into chondrocytes or osteoblast-like cells seems to be a key element in VC pathogenesis, in the context of passive calcium and phosphate deposition due to abnormal bone metabolism and impaired renal excretion. The process may be favoured by the low levels of circulating and locally produced VC inhibitors. VC determines increased arterial stiffness, left ventricular hypertrophy, a decrease in coronary artery perfusion, myocardial ischaemia and increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although current therapeutic strategies focus on the correction of phosphate, calcium, parathyroid hormone or vitamin D, a better understanding of the mechanisms of abnormal tissue calcification may lead to development of new therapeutic agents, which could reduce VC and improve cardiovascular outcome in CKD patients. The present review summarizes the following aspects: (i) the pathophysiological mechanism responsible for VC and its promoters and inhibitors, (ii) the methods for detection of VC in patients with CKD, including evaluation of arterial stiffness, and (iii) the management of VC in CKD patients.

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