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Am J Pathol. 2011 Feb;178(2):609-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2010.10.031.

Mesangial cell integrin αvβ8 provides glomerular endothelial cell cytoprotection by sequestering TGF-β and regulating PECAM-1.

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Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University and Rammelkamp Center for Research and Education, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Integrins are heterodimeric receptors that regulate cell adhesion, migration, and apoptosis. Integrin αvβ8 is most abundantly expressed in kidney and brain, and its major ligand is latent transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). Kidney αvβ8 localizes to mesangial cells, which appose glomerular endothelial cells and maintain glomerular capillary structure by mechanical and poorly understood paracrine mechanisms. To establish kidney αvβ8 function, mice with homozygous Itgb8 deletion (Itgb8(-/-)) were generated on outbred and C57BL/6 congenic backgrounds. Most Itgb8(-/-) mice died in utero, and surviving Itgb8(-/-) mice failed to gain weight, and rarely survived beyond 6 weeks. A renal glomerular phenotype included azotemia and albuminuria, as well as increased platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) expression, which was surprisingly not associated with conventional functions, such as endothelial cell hyperplasia, hypertrophy, or perivascular inflammation. Itgb8(-/-) mesangial cells demonstrated reduced latent TGF-β binding, resulting in bioactive TGF-β release, which stimulated glomerular endothelial cell apoptosis. Using PECAM-1 gain and loss of function strategies, we show that PECAM-1 provides endothelial cytoprotection against mesangial cell TGF-β. These results clarify a singular mechanism of mesangial-to-endothelial cell cross-talk, whereby mesangial cell αvβ8 homeostatically arbitrates glomerular microvascular integrity by sequestering TGF-β in its latent conformation. Under pathological conditions associated with decreased mesangial cell αvβ8 expression and TGF-β secretion, compensatory PECAM-1 modulation facilitates glomerular endothelial cell survival.

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