Fibrosis is a pathological situation in which excessive amounts of extracellular matrix (ECM) are deposited in the tissue. Myofibroblasts play a crucial role in the development and progress of fibrosis as they actively synthesize ECM components such as collagen I, fibronectin and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and cause organ fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) plays a major role in tissue fibrosis. Activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) is a type I receptor of TGF-β1 with an important role in angiogenesis whose function in cellular biology and TGF-β signaling is well known in endothelial cells, but its role in fibroblast biology and its contribution to fibrosis is poorly studied. We have recently demonstrated that ALK1 regulates ECM protein expression in a mouse model of obstructive nephropathy. Our aim was to evaluate the role of ALK1 in several processes involved in fibrosis such as ECM protein expression, proliferation and migration in ALK1(+/+) and ALK1(+/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) after TGF-β1 stimulations and inhibitors. ALK1 heterozygous MEFs show increased expression of ECM proteins (collagen I, fibronectin and CTGF/CCN2), cell proliferation and migration due to an alteration of TGF-β/Smad signaling. ALK1 heterozygous disruption shows an increase of Smad2 and Smad3 phosphorylation that explains the increases in CTGF/CCN2, fibronectin and collagen I, proliferation and cell motility observed in these cells. Therefore, we suggest that ALK1 plays an important role in the regulation of ECM protein expression, proliferation and migration.
Aim Chronic kidney disease is characterized by tubulointerstitial fibrosis involving inflammation, tubular apoptosis, fibroblast proliferation and extracellular matrix accumulation. Cardiotrophin‐1, a member of the interleukin‐6 family of cytokines, protects several organs from damage by promoting survival and anti‐inflammatory effects. However, whether cardiotrophin‐1 participates in the response to chronic kidney injury leading to renal fibrosis is unknown. Methods We hypothesized and assessed the potential role of cardiotrophin‐1 in a mice model of tubulointerstitial fibrosis induced by unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO). Results Three days after UUO, obstructed kidneys from cardiotrophin‐1−/− mice show higher expression of inflammatory markers IL‐1β, Cd68, ICAM‐1, COX‐2 and iNOs, higher activation of NF‐κB, higher amount of myofibroblasts and higher severity of tubular damage and apoptosis, compared with obstructed kidneys from wild‐type littermates. In a later stage, obstructed kidneys from cardiotrophin‐1−/− mice show higher fibrosis than obstructed kidneys from wild‐type mice. Interestingly, administration of exogenous cardiotrophin‐1 prevents the increased fibrosis resulting from the genetic knockout of cardiotrophin‐1 upon UUO, and supplementation of wild‐type mice with exogenous cardiotrophin‐1 further reduces the renal fibrosis induced by UUO. In vitro, renal myofibroblasts from cardiotrophin‐1−/− mice have higher collagen I and fibronectin expression and higher NF‐κB activation than wild‐type cells. Conclusions Cardiotrophin‐1 participates in the endogenous response that opposes renal damage by counteracting the inflammatory, apoptotic and fibrotic processes. And exogenous cardiotrophin‐1 is proposed as a candidate for the treatment and prevention of chronic renal fibrosis.
Hypertension, diabetes and obesity are cardiovascular risk factors closely associated to the development of renal and cardiovascular target organ damage. VAV2 and VAV3, members of the VAV family proto-oncogenes, are guanosine nucleotide exchange factors for the Rho and Rac GTPase family, which is related with cardiovascular homeostasis. We have analyzed the relationship between the presence of VAV2 rs602990 and VAV3 rs7528153 polymorphisms with cardiovascular risk factors and target organ damage (heart, vessels and kidney) in 411 subjects. Our results show that being carrier of the T allele in VAV2 rs602990 polymorphism is associated with an increased risk of obesity, reduced levels of ankle-brachial index and diastolic blood pressure and reduced retinal artery caliber. In addition, being carrier of T allele is associated with increased risk of target organ damage in males. On the other hand, being carrier of the T allele in VAV3 rs7528153 polymorphism is associated with a decreased susceptibility of developing a pathologic state composed by the presence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular damage, and with an increased risk of developing altered basal glycaemia. This is the first report showing an association between VAV2 and VAV3 polymorphisms with cardiovascular risk factors and target organ damage.
IntroductionTarget organ damage (TOD) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. The study objectives were to analyse the relationship of TOD to blood pressure, size of retinal arteries and veins, oxidative stress and different polymorphisms in the VAV-2 and VAV-3 genes in participants with hypertension.Methods and analysisA case–control study to analyse the relationship between clinical, biochemical and genetic parameters and presence of cardiac, vascular and renal TOD in 486 patients with hypertension. Participants with TOD will be considered as cases, and those without TOD will be enrolled as controls. This will be a collaborative study conducted by the groups of Primary Care, Cardiovascular and Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases of the Instituto de Investigación Biomédica of Salamanca (IBSAL). Assessment of cardiac, renal and vascular TOD. Measurement of peripheral and central blood pressure, size of eye fundus arteries and veins, and oxidative stress, and polymorphisms in the VAV-2 and VAV-3 genes.Ethics and disseminationThe study will be conducted after approval is obtained from the Ethics Committee of Hospital Clínico Universitario of Salamanca. All study participants will sign an informed consent to agree to participate in the study, and another consent to agree on the genetic study, in compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki and the WHO standards for observational studies. The results of this study will allow for an understanding of the relationship of the different TODs with blood pressure, retinal artery and vein diameters, oxidative stress and polymorphisms in VAV-2 and VAV-3 genes.Trial registration numberClinical Trials. gov Identifier: NCT02022618.
Whereas targeting the cyst epithelium and its molecular machinery has been the prevailing clinical strategy for polycystic kidney disease, the endothelium, including blood vasculature and lymphatics, is emerging as an important player in this disorder. In this Review, we provide an overview of the structural and functional alterations to blood vasculature and lymphatic vessels in the polycystic kidney. We also discuss evidence for vascular endothelial growth factor signalling, otherwise critical for endothelial cell development and maintenance, as being a fundamental molecular pathway in polycystic kidney disease and a potential therapeutic target for modulating cyst expansion.
Gene editing using the CRISPR/Cas9 system is an extremely efficient approach for generating mutations within the genomic DNA of immortalized cell lines. This procedure begins with a straightforward cloning step to generate a single plasmid encoding the Cas9 enzyme as well as a synthetic guide RNA (sgRNA) which is selected to target specific sites within the genome. This plasmid is transfected into cells either alone, in order to generate random insertion-deletion alleles ("indels") at the desired locus via the nonhomologous end-joining pathway, or in conjunction with a homology-directed repair template oligonucleotide to generate a specific point mutation. Here we describe a procedure to perform gene editing in IMCD3 and HEK293 cells and to subsequently isolate clonal cell lines carrying mutations of interest.
Cardiovascular diseases are associated to risk factors as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The transforming growth factor-β1 receptors ALK1 and endoglin regulate blood pressure and vascular homeostasis. However, no studies relate the association of ALK1 and endoglin polymorphisms with cardiovascular risk factors. We analysed the predictive value of the ALK1 and endoglin polymorphisms on cardiovascular target organ damage in hypertensive and diabetic patients in 379 subjects with or without hypertension and diabetes in a Primary Care setting. The ALK1 rs2071219 polymorphism (AA genotype) is associated with a lower presence of diabetic retinopathy and with the absence of altered basal glycaemia. Being carrier of the ALK1 rs3847859 polymorphism (G allele) is associated with lower basal heart rate and with higher LDL-cholesterol levels. The endoglin rs3739817 polymorphism (AA genotype) is associated with higher levels of LDL-cholesterol, and being carrier of the endoglin rs10987759 polymorphism (C allele) is associated with higher haemoglobin levels and with an increased heart rate. Summarizing, several ALK1 and endoglin gene polymorphisms increase the risk of cardiovascular events. The analysis of these polymorphisms in populations at risk, in combination with the determination of other parameters and biomarkers, could implement the diagnosis and prognosis of susceptibility to cardiovascular damage.
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