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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2011 Jan;300(1):F105-12. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00363.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Sympathetic blockade prevents the decrease in cardiac VEGF expression and capillary supply in experimental renal failure.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Krankenhausstr. 8-10, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Uremic cardiomyopathy of men and rodents is characterized by lower myocardial capillary supply that in rats could be prevented by central and peripheral blockade of the sympathetic nervous system. The underlying pathomechanisms remain largely unknown. We investigated whether alterations of cardiac vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene and protein expression were involved. In our long-term experiment, we analyzed whether VEGF gene and protein expression was altered in the heart of male Sprague-Dawley rats with either sham operation (sham, n=10) or subtotal nephrectomy (SNX, n=10). In our short-term experiment (17 sham, 24 SNX), the effect of a putative downregulation of sympathetic nervous activity by surgical renal denervation (interruption of renal afferent pathways) on cardiac gene expression of VEGF, flt-1, and flk-1 and on myocardial capillary supply was analyzed. In the long-term study, cardiac capillary supply and vascular endothelial growth factor gene and protein expression were significantly lower in SNX than in sham. In the short-term experiment, cardiac VEGF mRNA expression was significantly lower in untreated SNX (4,258±2,078 units) than in both sham groups (11,709±4,169 and 8,998±4,823 units); this decrease was significantly prevented by renal denervation (8,190±3,889, P<0.05). We conclude that cardiac VEGF gene and protein expression is reduced in experimental renal failure, and this may be considered as one potential reason for impaired myocardial adaptation under the situation of cardiac hypertrophy. The beneficial effect of sympathetic downregulation on cardiac structure and function in renal failure may be at least in part explained by increased cardiac VEGF gene expression.

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