Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a cytokine that potently stimulates angiogenesis, microvascular hyperpermeability, and endothelium-dependent vasodilation, effects that are largely mediated by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). The expression of VEGF is pronounced in glomerular visceral epithelial cells, but its function in renal physiology and pathophysiology is unknown. VEGF expression is upregulated by high ambient glucose concentrations in several cell types in vitro and in glomeruli of diabetic rats. To assess the role of VEGF in the pathophysiology of early renal dysfunction in diabetes, monoclonal anti-VEGF antibodies (Ab) were administered to control and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats for 6 wk after induction of diabetes. Based on in vitro binding studies, an adequate serum VEGF inhibitory activity was achieved during the entire course of anti-VEGF Ab administration. Anti-VEGF Ab treatment but not administration of isotype-matched control Ab decreased hyperfiltration, albuminuria, and glomerular hypertrophy in diabetic rats. VEGF blockade also prevented the upregulation of eNOS expression in glomerular capillary endothelial cells of diabetic rats. Antagonism of VEGF had no effect on GFR and glomerular volume in control rats. These results identify VEGF as a pathogenetic link between hyperglycemia and early renal dysfunction in diabetes. Targeting VEGF may prove useful as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of early diabetic nephropathy.
|Number of pages
|Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
|Published - 2001
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