Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 11th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Road Block
03 February 2015

Road Block

Out on the road, closed lanes and other obstructions cause frustration and delays, often forcing traffic to grind to a halt. More worryingly, the same problems can occur within our arteries, the network of vessels that supplies our organs with oxygen and nutrients. In the process of vascular calcification (VC), crystals of calcium phosphate (pictured) aggregate inside the vessels’ walls, impeding circulation. The consequences are predictably devastating; in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease, VC is the main cause of death. Research has shown that crystal formation is not a passive process, but rather that smooth muscle cells surrounding arteries can actively influence their deposition. This means there could be ways to influence cells so that calcification is reduced; for example, the presence of magnesium is known to alleviate symptoms. Understanding how this works, and what other factors are involved, will help devise means of slowing this deadly process.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.