Diabetic nephropathy: where hemodynamics meets metabolism

J M Forbes, K Fukami, M E Cooper
Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes 2007, 115 (2): 69-84
Diabetic nephropathy (DN), the most common cause of end stage renal disease in developed nations, is thought to result from interactions between metabolic and haemodynamic factors. Specific metabolically driven, glucose dependent pathways are activated within diabetic renal tissues. These pathways induce oxidative stress, polyol pathway flux, hexosamine flux and accumulation of advanced glycated end-products (AGEs). Haemodynamic factors are also implicated in the pathogenesis of DN and include elevations of systemic and intraglomerular pressure and activation of various vasoactive hormone pathways including the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS), endothelin and urotensin. These altered hemodynamics act independently and in concert with metabolic pathways, to activate intracellular second messengers such as protein kinase C (PKC) and MAP kinase (MAPK), nuclear transcription factors such as nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and various growth factors such as the prosclerotic cytokines, transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and the angiogenic, permeability enhancing growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF. Ultimately these molecular mechanisms lead to increased renal albumin permeability, and extracellular matrix accumulation, which results in increasing proteinuria, glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. In the past, the treatment of diabetic nephropathy has focused on control of hyperglycemia and the interruption of the RAAS with certain anti-hypertensive agents. Newer novel targets, some of which are linked to glucose dependent pathways, appear to be a major focus of new therapies directed against the development and progression of renal damage as a result of diabetes. It is likely that resolution of diabetic nephropathy will require synergistic therapies to target multiple mediators of this disease.

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