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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004 Mar;15(3):566-74.

Angiopoietin 1 and vascular endothelial growth factor modulate human glomerular endothelial cell barrier properties.

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Academic Renal Unit, University of Bristol, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, United Kingdom.


Normal glomerular filtration depends on the combined properties of the three layers of glomerular capillary wall: glomerular endothelial cells (GEnC), basement membrane, and podocytes. Podocytes produce endothelial factors, including angiopoietin 1 (ang1), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), whereas GEnC express their respective receptors Tie2 and VEGFR2 in vivo. As ang1 acts to maintain the endothelium in other vascular beds, regulating some actions of VEGF, these observations suggest a mechanism whereby podocytes may direct the unique properties of the glomerular endothelium. This interaction was investigated by studies on the barrier properties of human GEnC in vitro. GEnC were examined for expression of endothelium-specific markers by immunofluorescence and Western blotting and for typical responses to TNF-alpha by a cell-based immunoassay. Expression of angiopoietin and VEGF receptors was examined similarly. Barrier properties of GEnC monolayers cultured on porous supports were investigated by measurement of transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) and passage of labeled albumin. Responses to a cAMP analogue and thrombin were examined before those to ang1 and VEGF. Results confirmed the endothelial origin of GEnC and their expression of Tie2 and VEGFR2. GEnC formed monolayers with a mean TEER of 30 to 40 Omega/cm(2). The cAMP analogue and thrombin increased and decreased TEER by 34.4 and 14.8 Omega/cm(2), respectively, with corresponding effects on protein passage. Ang1 increased TEER by 11.4 Omega/cm(2) and reduced protein passage by 45.2%, whereas VEGF reduced TEER by 12.5 Omega/cm(2) but had no effect on protein passage. Both ang1 and VEGF modulate GEnC barrier properties, consistent with potential in vivo roles; ang1 stabilizing the endothelium and resisting angiogenesis while VEGF induces the high permeability to water, characteristic of the glomerular endothelium.

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