Background: An uncharacterized circulating factor that increases vascular permeability has previously been described in childhood steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS). The aim of this study was to determine whether this factor is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), the recently described endothelial cell mitogen and enhancer of vascular permeability.
Methods: Plasma and urine VEGF levels were measured in children with SSNS in both relapse and remission and in normal age- and sex-matched controls. Semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction studies investigating VEGF mRNA expression were performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from children with SSNS in relapse and controls. In two experimental models (one-hour and three-day follow-up postinfusion), Sprague-Dawley rats were intravenously administered 50 microg rVEGF to determine whether this induced either proteinuria or glomerular histologic change.
Results: Plasma VEGF levels and urine VEGF/creatinine ratios were not elevated in SSNS relapse compared with remission and control samples. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell VEGF mRNA expression was no different in SSNS patients compared with controls. The administration of VEGF to rats induced an acute reversible fall in systemic blood pressure but did not result in the development of either proteinuria or glomerular histologic change.
Conclusion: Increased circulating VEGF levels are not responsible for the proteinuria observed during relapses of SSNS. Further studies are warranted to investigate intrarenal VEGF expression.