High glucose concentration has been shown to induce the overexpression of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta 1 mRNA and protein in different cell types, including murine mesangial cells, thus possibly accounting for the expansion of mesangial extracellular matrix observed in diabetic glomerulopathy. In the present study, we evaluated platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) B-chain and PDGF-beta receptor gene expression in human mesangial cells (HMCs) exposed to different concentrations of glucose and then sought a possible relationship between a PDGF loop and the modulation of TGF-beta 1 expression. HMC [3H]thymidine incorporation was upregulated by 30 mmol/L glucose (HG) up to 24 hours, whereas it was significantly inhibited at later time points. Neutralizing antibodies to PDGF BB abolished the biphasic response to HG, whereas anti-TGF-beta antibodies reversed only the late inhibitory effect of hyperglycemic medium. HG induced an early and persistent increase of PDGF B-chain gene expression, as evaluated by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, whereas PDGF-beta receptor mRNA increased by twofold after 6 hours, thereafter declining at levels 70% lower than in controls after 24 hours. 125I-Labeled PDGF BB binding studies in HMCs exposed to HG for 24 hours confirmed the decrease of PDGF-beta receptor expression. TGF-beta 1-specific transcripts showed 43 and 78% increases after 24 and 48 hours of incubation in HG, respectively, which was markedly diminished by anti-PDGF BB neutralizing antibodies or suramin. We conclude that HG induces an early activation of a PDGF loop that, in turn, causes an increase of TGF-beta 1 gene expression, thus modulating both HMC proliferation and mesangial matrix production.