Insights into the mechanisms involved in the expression and regulation of extracellular matrix proteins in diabetic nephropathy

C. Hu, L. Sun*, L. Xiao, Y. Han, X. Fu, X. Xiong, X. Xu, Y. Liu, S. Yang, F. Liu, Y. S. Kanwar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Diabetic Nephropathy (DN) is believed to be a major microvascular complication of diabetes. The hallmark of DN includes deposition of Extracellular Matrix (ECM) proteins, such as, collagen, laminin and fibronectin in the mesangium and renal tubulo-interstitium of the glomerulus and basement membranes. Such an increased expression of ECM leads to glomerular and tubular basement membranes thickening and increase of mesangial matrix, ultimately resulting in glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. The characteristic morphologic glomerular mesangial lesion has been described as Kimmelstiel-Wilson nodule, and the process at times is referred to as diabetic nodular glomerulosclerosis. Thus, the accumulation of ECM proteins plays a critical role in the development of DN. The relevant mechanism(s) involved in the increased ECM expression and their regulation in the kidney in diabetic state has been extensively investigated and documented in the literature. Nevertheless, there are certain other mechanisms that may yet be conclusively defined. Recent studies demonstrated that some of the new signaling pathways or molecules including, Notch, Wnt, mTOR, TLRs and small GTPase may play a pivotal role in the modulation of ECM regulation and expression in DN. Such modulation could be operational for instance Notch through Notch1/Jagged1 signaling, Wnt by Wnt/β- catenin pathway and mTOR via PI3-K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathways. All these pathways may be critical in the modulation of ECM expression and tubulo-interstitial fibrosis. In addition, TLRs, mainly the TLR2 and TLR4, by TLR2- dependent and TGF-β-dependent conduits, may modulate ECM expression and generate a fibrogenic response. Small GTPase like Rho, Ras and Rab family by targeting relevant genes may also influence the accumulation of ECM proteins and renal fibrosis in hyperglycemic states. This review summarizes the recent information about the role and mechanisms by which these molecules and signaling pathways regulate ECM synthesis and its expression in high glucose ambience in vitro and in vivo states. The understanding of such signaling pathways and the molecules that influence expression, secretion and amassing of ECM may aid in developing strategies for the amelioration of diabetic nephropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2858-2870
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Diabetic nephropathy
  • Extracellular matrix
  • MTOR
  • Notch
  • TLRS and small GTPase
  • WNT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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