Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Simpson, Chartrisa L.

Committee Member

Elder, Steven H.

Committee Member

Ross, Matthew K.

Committee Member

Burch, Reuben F.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Biomedical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Every 37 seconds, someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease. Vascular calcification is one of the underlying causes of these fatal events. Medial calcification develops following arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Medial calcification is characterized by the deposition of hydroxyapatite in the medial layer of the arteries after normal vascular smooth muscle cells undergo a phenotypic switch to resemble osteoblast-like cells. It is hypothesized that this switch is caused by the wingless related (WNT)-Signaling pathway. The WNT-Signaling pathway, upon activation, causes the upregulation of osteogenic markers for the development of osteoblast-like cells. Current treatments alleviate consequences of calcification but do not address the disease. Due to a lack of cures for calcification, a novel therapy for this disease is overdue. By studying human aortic smooth muscle cells and confirming the role of WNT-Signaling as it relates to calcification, a possible therapeutic target for calcification can be identified.