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      Role of the VEGF-A Signaling Pathway in the Glomerulus: Evidence for Crosstalk between Components of the Glomerular Filtration Barrier

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          Background/Aims: Vascular endothelial growth factor is a major regulator of angiogenesis and vascular permeability [Carmeliet et al.: Nature 1996;380:435–439]. The podocyte, the outermost layer of the glomerular filtration barrier, produces large amounts of VEGF-A. The observation that levels of VEGF-A are altered in glomerular diseases, the identification of a link between pre-eclampsia and elevated levels of a circulating soluble VEGF receptor, and the entry of anti-VEGF therapies into the clinical arena have generated intense interest in the functional role of VEGF-A in the glomerulus. Methods: A variety of studies have been performed to address the role of VEGF-A signaling in the glomerulus. These include descriptions of expression patterns in human renal biopsies, cell culture studies to dissect paracrine versus autocrine signaling roles, and manipulation of VEGF-A expression in animal models using pharmacologic, biologic or genetic approaches. Results: Exquisite dosage sensitivity to VEGF-A exists in the developing glomerulus as small reductions in the expression of VEGF-A lead to profound changes in glomerular structure and function in mice. The use of VEGF inhibitors is associated with damage to the glomerular endothelium in animal models and proteinuria in patients, suggesting that local VEGF-A production is also required for maintenance of this specialized vascular bed. Conclusions: Tight regulation of VEGF-A signaling is required for development and maintenance of the glomerular filtration barrier (GFB) and emphasizes the role of podocyte-endothelial crosstalk in the glomerulus. The relative contributions of various VEGF-A isoforms, the role of autocrine signaling in vivo and identification of factors and mechanisms that regulate constitutive expression, storage and delivery of VEGF-A in the glomerulus are still under investigation.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Circulating angiogenic factors and the risk of preeclampsia.

          The cause of preeclampsia remains unclear. Limited data suggest that excess circulating soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), which binds placental growth factor (PlGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), may have a pathogenic role. We performed a nested case-control study within the Calcium for Preeclampsia Prevention trial, which involved healthy nulliparous women. Each woman with preeclampsia was matched to one normotensive control. A total of 120 pairs of women were randomly chosen. Serum concentrations of angiogenic factors (total sFlt-1, free PlGF, and free VEGF) were measured throughout pregnancy; there were a total of 655 serum specimens. The data were analyzed cross-sectionally within intervals of gestational age and according to the time before the onset of preeclampsia. During the last two months of pregnancy in the normotensive controls, the level of sFlt-1 increased and the level of PlGF decreased. These changes occurred earlier and were more pronounced in the women in whom preeclampsia later developed. The sFlt-1 level increased beginning approximately five weeks before the onset of preeclampsia. At the onset of clinical disease, the mean serum level in the women with preeclampsia was 4382 pg per milliliter, as compared with 1643 pg per milliliter in controls with fetuses of similar gestational age (P<0.001). The PlGF levels were significantly lower in the women who later had preeclampsia than in the controls beginning at 13 to 16 weeks of gestation (mean, 90 pg per milliliter vs. 142 pg per milliliter, P=0.01), with the greatest difference occurring during the weeks before the onset of preeclampsia, coincident with the increase in the sFlt-1 level. Alterations in the levels of sFlt-1 and free PlGF were greater in women with an earlier onset of preeclampsia and in women in whom preeclampsia was associated with a small-for-gestational-age infant. Increased levels of sFlt-1 and reduced levels of PlGF predict the subsequent development of preeclampsia. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Rapid vascular regrowth in tumors after reversal of VEGF inhibition.

            Inhibitors of VEGF signaling can block angiogenesis and reduce tumor vascularity, but little is known about the reversibility of these changes after treatment ends. In the present study, regrowth of blood vessels in spontaneous RIP-Tag2 tumors and implanted Lewis lung carcinomas in mice was assessed after inhibition of VEGF receptor signaling by AG-013736 or AG-028262 for 7 days. Both agents caused loss of 50%-60% of tumor vasculature. Empty sleeves of basement membrane were left behind. Pericytes also survived but had less alpha-SMA immunoreactivity. One day after drug withdrawal, endothelial sprouts grew into empty sleeves of basement membrane. Vessel patency and connection to the bloodstream followed close behind. By 7 days, tumors were fully revascularized, and the pericyte phenotype returned to baseline. Importantly, the regrown vasculature regressed as much during a second treatment as it did in the first. Inhibition of MMPs or targeting of type IV collagen cryptic sites by antibody HUIV26 did not eliminate the sleeves or slow revascularization. These results suggest that empty sleeves of basement membrane and accompanying pericytes provide a scaffold for rapid revascularization of tumors after removal of anti-VEGF therapy and highlight their importance as potential targets in cancer therapy.
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              Vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor expression in a mouse model of retinal neovascularization.

              Neovascular diseases of the retina are a major cause of blindness worldwide. Hypoxia is thought to be a common precursor to neovascularization in many retinal diseases, but the factors involved in the hypoxic neovascular response have not been fully identified. To investigate the role of vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor (VEGF/VPF) in retinal neovascularization, the expression of VEGF/VPF mRNA and protein were studied in a mouse model of proliferative retinopathy. RNA (Northern) blot analysis revealed that retinal VEGF/VPF mRNA expression increased 3-fold between 6 and 12 hr of relative retinal hypoxia and remained elevated during the development of neovascularization. In situ hybridization localized VEGF/VPF mRNA to cells bodies in the inner nuclear layer of the retina. Immunohistochemical confocal microscopy demonstrated that VEGF/VPF protein levels increase with a time course similar to that of the mRNA. The cells in the inner nuclear layer of the retina that produce VEGF/VPF were identified morphologically as Müller cells. These data suggest that VEGF/VPF expression in the retina plays a central role in the development of retinal ischemia-induced ocular neovascularization.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Physiol
                Nephron Physiology
                S. Karger AG
                June 2007
                06 June 2007
                : 106
                : 2
                : p32-p37
                aThe Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, University of Toronto, bDivision of Nephrology, St. Michael’s Hospital, and cInstitute of Medical Science and Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont., Canada; dDepartment of Pathology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
                101798 Nephron Physiol 2007;106:p32–p37
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 35, Pages: 1


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