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J Biol Chem. 2001 Dec 28;276(52):49142-7. Epub 2001 Sep 28.

A protective role for kidney apolipoprotein E. Regulation of mesangial cell proliferation and matrix expansion.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset, New York 11030, USA.


Mesangial expansion is a key feature in the pathogenesis of numerous renal diseases involving the glomerulus. Studies indicate that mutations in apolipoprotein E (apoE) might independently contribute to kidney dysfunction. Although the role of apoE as an atheroprotective molecule is well established, its role in kidney is unclear. In this study, we sought to explore whether apoE has a protective function in kidney. Northern blotting and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction showed apoE expression in kidney, and mesangial cell is a major source of apoE in kidney. In the kidneys of 14-16-month-old apoE-null mice, hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining revealed increased mesangial cell proliferation and matrix formation compared with wild type mice or apoB-overexpressing mice, which have elevated plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. These data suggest that lack of apoE, rather than hyperlipidemia, contributes to increased mesangial expansion. We isolated mesangial cells from mouse kidney and determined the effect of apoE on cell growth. ApoE (E3, 10 microg/ml) completely inhibited serum, platelet-derived growth factor (10 ng/ml), as well as low density lipoprotein-induced mesangial cell proliferation. Among the three isoforms, E3 was found to be most effective in inhibiting mesangial cell proliferation. ApoE did not show any cytotoxic effect, and moreover, inhibited mesangial cell apoptosis induced by oxidized low density lipoprotein. These data suggest that apoE regulates growth as well as survival of mesangial cells. We previously showed that apoE induces matrix heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) in vascular cells, which has an antiproliferative effect. Similarly, apoE induced the mesangial matrix HSPG. Perlecan is the major HSPG of mesangial matrix and subendothelial space, and consistent with this, blockade of perlecan reversed the antiproliferative effect of apoE. Immunohistochemistry revealed reduced staining of perlecan in kidney from apoE-null mice. Because the loss of anionic HSPG in the basement membrane and mesangial matrix is associated with disruption of filtration barrier, these data suggest a novel role for kidney apoE in preserving the filtration barrier. In summary, apoE has a protective function in kidney as an autocrine regulator of mesangial expansion and kidney function.

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