Angiogenesis has been implicated in glomerular alterations in the early stage of diabetic nephropathy. We previously reported the renoprotective effects of vasohibin-1 (VASH1), which is a novel angiogenesis inhibitor derived from endothelial cells, on diabetic nephropathy progression. Vasohibin-2 (VASH2) was originally identified as a VASH1 homolog and possesses pro-angiogenic activity in contrast to VASH1. In addition, VASH2 was recently shown to promote epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition via enhanced transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling in cancer cells. Herein, we investigated the pathogenic roles of VASH2 in diabetic nephropathy using VAHS2-deficient mice. The type 1 diabetes model was induced by intraperitoneal injections of streptozoto-cin in VASH2 homozygous knockout (VASH2LacZ/LacZ) or wild-type mice. These mice were euthanized 16 weeks after inducing hyperglycemia. Increased urine albumin excretion and creatinine clearance observed in diabetic wild-type mice were significantly prevented in diabetic VASH2-deficient mice. Accordingly, diabetes-induced increase in glomerular volume and reduction in glomerular slit-diaphragm density were significantly improved in VASH2 knockout mice. Increased glomerular endothelial area was also suppressed in VASH2-deficient mice, in association with inhibition of enhanced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 2 (VEGFR2), but not VEGF level. Furthermore, glomerular accumulation of mesangial matrix, including type IV collagen, and increased expression of TGF-β were improved in diabetic VASH2 knockout mice compared with diabetic wild-type mice. Based on the immunofluorescence findings, endogenous VASH2 localization in glomeruli was consistent with mesangial cells. Human mesangial cells (HMCs) were cultured under high glucose condition in in vitro experiments. Transfection of VASH2 small interfering RNA (siRNA) into the HMCs resulted in the suppression of type IV collagen production induced by high glucose compared with control siRNA. These results indicate that VASH2 may be involved in diabetes-induced glomerular alterations, particularly impaired filtration barrier and mesangial expansion. Therefore, VASH2 is likely to represent a promising therapeutic target for diabetic nephropathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)