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Lab Invest. 2017 Dec;97(12):1439-1452. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2017.77. Epub 2017 Oct 30.

Vascular endothelial growth factor-C ameliorates renal interstitial fibrosis through lymphangiogenesis in mouse unilateral ureteral obstruction.

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Department of Medicine and Clinical Science, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.
Department of Integrated Therapy for Chronic Kidney Disease, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


Renal fibrosis is the final common pathway of chronic kidney diseases. Lymphatic vessel (LV) proliferation is found in human renal diseases and other fibrotic diseases, suggesting that lymphangiogenesis is associated with the progression or suppression of kidney diseases. However, the purpose of LV proliferation is not completely understood. We investigated the effect of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C on lymphangiogenesis, inflammation, and fibrosis in the mouse kidney using the unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) model. In UUO mice, significant proliferation of LVs was accompanied by tubulointerstitial nephritis and fibrosis. We continuously administered recombinant human VEGF-C to UUO model mice using an osmotic pump (UUO+VEGF-C group). Lymphangiogenesis was significantly induced in the UUO+VEGF-C group compared with the vehicle group, despite similar numbers of capillaries in both groups. The number of infiltrating macrophages, and levels of inflammatory cytokines and transforming growth factor-β1 were reduced in the UUO+VEGF-C group compared with the vehicle group. Renal fibrosis was consequently attenuated in the UUO+VEGF-C group. In cultured lymphatic endothelial cells, administration of VEGF-C increased the activity and proliferation of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and expression of adhesion molecules such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1. These findings suggest that induction of lymphangiogenesis ameliorates inflammation and fibrosis in the renal interstitium. Enhancement of the VEGF-C signaling pathway in LECs may be a therapeutic strategy for renal fibrosis.

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