The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-017-4322-3) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Animal models of diabetic nephropathy show increased levels of glomerular vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, and several studies have shown that inhibiting VEGF-A in animal models of diabetes can prevent albuminuria and glomerular hypertrophy. However, in those studies, treatment was initiated before the onset of kidney damage. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether transfecting mice with the VEGF-A inhibitor sFlt-1 (encoding soluble fms-related tyrosine kinase 1) can reverse pre-existing kidney damage in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. In addition, we investigated whether transfection with sFlt-1 can reduce endothelial activation and inflammation in these mice.
Subgroups of untreated 8-week-old female C57BL/6J control (n = 5) and diabetic mice (n = 7) were euthanised 5 weeks after the start of the experiment in order to determine the degree of kidney damage prior to treatment with sFLT-1. Diabetes was induced with three i.p. injections of streptozotocin (75 mg/kg) administered at 2 day intervals. Diabetic nephropathy was then investigated in diabetic mice transfected with sFlt-1 (n = 6); non-diabetic, non-transfected control mice (n = 5); non-diabetic control mice transfected with sFlt-1(n = 10); and non-transfected diabetic mice (n = 6). These mice were euthanised at the end of week 15. Transfection with sFlt-1 was performed in week 6.
We found that transfection with sFlt-1 significantly reduced kidney damage by normalising albuminuria, glomerular hypertrophy and mesangial matrix content (i.e. glomerular collagen type IV protein levels) (p < 0.001). We also found that transfection with sFlt-1 reduced endothelial activation (p < 0.001), glomerular macrophage infiltration (p < 0.001) and glomerular TNF-α protein levels (p < 0.001). Finally, sFLT-1 decreased VEGF-A-induced endothelial activation in vitro (p < 0.001).
These results suggest that sFLT-1 might be beneficial in treating diabetic nephropathy by inhibiting VEGF-A, thereby reducing endothelial activation and glomerular inflammation, and ultimately reversing kidney damage.
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- The VEGF-A inhibitor sFLT-1 improves renal function by reducing endothelial activation and inflammation in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes
Priscilla Van Der Wilk
Jan A. Bruijn
Hans J. Baelde
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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