Objective: It has been postulated that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a role in the progression of renal injury. However, the role of other angiogenic factors and their receptors, such as the angiopoietins and Tie2, and in particular their relation to renoprotective therapies, such as agents that interrupt the renin-angiotensin system, have not been studied in the context of diabetes-related renal injury.
Design and methods: Renal expression of VEGF, angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) and their receptors, VEGF-R2 and Tie-2, were assessed using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, in control and streptozotocin diabetic rats, untreated or receiving the AT1 receptor antagonist, valsartan, or the AT2 receptor antagonist, PD123319.
Results: Diabetes was associated with increased gene and protein expression of VEGF, VEGF-R2, Ang-1, Ang-2 and Tie-2. AT1 receptor antagonism attenuated gene expression of these cytokines and receptors, yet PD123319, which had no effect on blood pressure, reduced VEGF-R2 and Ang-1 gene expression and decreased VEGF, Ang-1 and Ang-2 protein levels.
Conclusions: In experimental diabetes, there is significant upregulation within the kidney of various angiogenic cytokines and their receptors. Furthermore, the effects of angiotensin II receptor blockade on these parameters is consistent with the VEGF-VEGF-R2 and angiopoietin-Tie-2 axes being modulated in the kidney by haemodynamic factors in the diabetic context.