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Am J Pathol. 1996 Jun;148(6):1915-23.

Cyclic stretching force selectively up-regulates transforming growth factor-beta isoforms in cultured rat mesangial cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Henry Ford Hospital, MI 48202, USA.


Glomerular distention from increased intraglomerular pressure stretches mesangial cells (MCs). Stretching MCs in culture stimulates extracellular matrix accumulation, suggesting that this may be a mechanism for glomerular hypertension-associated glomerulosclerosis. We examined whether mechanical stretching serves as a stimulus for the synthesis and activation of the prosclerotic molecule transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta, thus providing a potential system for auto-induction of extracellular matrix. Rat MCs cultured on flexible-bottom plates were subjected to cyclic stretching for up to 3 days and then assayed for TGF-beta mRNA, secretion of TGF-beta, and localization of active TGF-beta by immunostaining. MCs contained mRNA for all three mammalian isoforms of TGF-beta. Cyclic stretching for 36 hours increased TGF-beta1 and TGF-beta3 mRNA levels approximately twofold, without altering the levels of TGF-beta2 mRNA. This was followed at 48 to 72 hours by the increased secretion of both latent and active TGF-beta1. Latent, but not active, TGF-beta3 secretion also increased whereas the levels of TGF-beta2 were unaffected by mechanical force. The stretching force in this system is unequally distributed over the culture membrane. Localization of active TGF-beta by immunostaining demonstrated that the quantity of cell-associated cytokine across the culture was directly proportional to the zonal amplitude of the stretching force. These results demonstrate that stretching force stimulates MCs to selectively release and activate TGF-beta1. This mechanical induction of TGF-beta1 may help explain the increased extracellular matrix associated with intraglomerular hypertension.

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