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1.  CUBN as a Novel Locus for End-Stage Renal Disease: Insights from Renal Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36512.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a complex disorder. As genome-wide association studies identified cubilin gene CUBN as a locus for albuminuria, and urinary protein loss is a risk factor for progressive CKD, we tested the hypothesis that common genetic variants in CUBN are associated with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and proteinuria. First, a total of 1142 patients with ESRD, admitted for renal transplantation, and 1186 donors were genotyped for SNPs rs7918972 and rs1801239 (case-control study). The rs7918972 minor allele frequency (MAF) was higher in ESRD patients comparing to kidney donors, implicating an increased risk for ESRD (OR 1.39, p = 0.0004) in native kidneys. Second, after transplantation recipients were followed for 5.8 [3.8–9.2] years (longitudinal study) documenting ESRD in transplanted kidneys – graft failure (GF). During post-transplant follow-up 92 (9.6%) cases of death-censored GF occurred. Donor rs7918972 MAF, representing genotype of the transplanted kidney, was 16.3% in GF vs 10.7% in cases with functioning graft. Consistently, a multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that donor rs7918972 is a predictor of GF, although statistical significance was not reached (HR 1.53, p = 0.055). There was no association of recipient rs7918972 with GF. Rs1801239 was not associated with ESRD or GF. In line with an association with the outcome, donor rs7918972 was associated with elevated proteinuria levels cross-sectionally at 1 year after transplantation. Thus, we identified CUBN rs7918972 as a novel risk variant for renal function loss in two independent settings: ESRD in native kidneys and GF in transplanted kidneys.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036512
PMCID: PMC3344899  PMID: 22574174
2.  Differential Expression of Proteoglycans in Tissue Remodeling and Lymphangiogenesis after Experimental Renal Transplantation in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9095.
Background
Chronic transplant dysfunction explains the majority of late renal allograft loss and is accompanied by extensive tissue remodeling leading to transplant vasculopathy, glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis. Matrix proteoglycans mediate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and play key roles in tissue remodeling. The aim of this study was to characterize differential heparan sulfate proteoglycan and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan expression in transplant vasculopathy, glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis in renal allografts with chronic transplant dysfunction.
Methods
Renal allografts were transplanted in the Dark Agouti-to-Wistar Furth rat strain combination. Dark Agouti-to-Dark Agouti isografts and non-transplanted Dark Agouti kidneys served as controls. Allograft and isograft recipients were sacrificed 66 and 81 days (mean) after transplantation, respectively. Heparan sulfate proteoglycan (collXVIII, perlecan and agrin) and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (versican) expression, as well as CD31 and LYVE-1 (vascular and lymphatic endothelium, respectively) expression were (semi-) quantitatively analyzed using immunofluorescence.
Findings
Arteries with transplant vasculopathy and sclerotic glomeruli in allografts displayed pronounced neo-expression of collXVIII and perlecan. In contrast, in interstitial fibrosis expression of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan versican dominated. In the cortical tubular basement membranes in both iso- and allografts, induction of collXVIII was detected. Allografts presented extensive lymphangiogenesis (p<0.01 compared to isografts and non-transplanted controls), which was associated with induced perlecan expression underneath the lymphatic endothelium (p<0.05 and p<0.01 compared to isografts and non-transplanted controls, respectively). Both the magnitude of lymphangiogenesis and perlecan expression correlated with severity of interstitial fibrosis and impaired graft function.
Interpretation
Our results reveal that changes in the extent of expression and the type of proteoglycans being expressed are tightly associated with tissue remodeling after renal transplantation. Therefore, proteoglycans might be potential targets for clinical intervention in renal chronic transplant dysfunction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009095
PMCID: PMC2816722  PMID: 20140097
3.  Urinary Vitamin D Binding Protein: A Potential Novel Marker of Renal Interstitial Inflammation and Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55887.
Non-invasive tubulointerstitial damage markers may allow better titration and monitoring of renoprotective therapy. We investigated the value of urinary vitamin D binding protein excretion (uVDBP) as a tubulointerstitial inflammation and fibrosis marker in adriamycin rats, and tested whether uVDBP parallels renal damage and responds to therapy intensification in humans. In adriamycin (ADR) rats, uVDBP was strongly elevated vs controls (CON) already 6 wks after nephrosis induction (ADR: 727±674 [mean±SD] vs CON: 9±12 µg/d, p<0.01), i.e. before onset of pre-fibrotic and inflammatory tubulointerstitial damage, and at all following 6-wk time points until end of follow up at 30 wks (ADR: 1403±1026 vs CON: 206±132 µg/d, p<0.01). In multivariate regression analysis, uVDBP was associated with tubulointerstitial macrophage accumulation (standardized beta = 0.47, p = 0.01) and collagen III expression (standardized beta = 0.44, p = 0.02) independently of albuminuria. In humans, uVDBP was increased in 100 microalbuminuric subjects (44±93 µg/d) and in 47 CKD patients with overt proteinuria (9.2±13.0 mg/d) compared to 100 normoalbuminuric subjects (12±12 µg/d, p<0.001). In CKD patients, uVDBP responded to intensification of renoprotective therapy (ACEi+liberal sodium: 9.2±13.0 mg/d vs dual RAAS blockade+low sodium: 2747±4013, p<0.001), but remained still >100-fold increased during maximal therapy vs normoalbuminurics (p<0.001), consistent with persisting tubulointerstitial damage. UVDBP was associated with tubular and inflammatory damage markers KIM-1 (standardized beta = 0.52, p<0.001), beta-2-microglobuline (st.beta = 0.45, p<0.001), cystatin C (st.beta = 0.40, p<0.001), MCP-1 (st.beta = 0.31, p<0.001) and NGAL (st.beta = 0.20, p = 0.005), independently of albuminuria. UVDBP may be a novel urinary biomarker of tubulointerstitial damage. Prospectively designed studies are required to validate our findings and confirm its relevance in the clinical setting.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055887
PMCID: PMC3569442  PMID: 23409077
4.  Proteinuria Triggers Renal Lymphangiogenesis Prior to the Development of Interstitial Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50209.
Proteinuria is an important cause of progressive tubulo-interstitial damage. Whether proteinuria could trigger a renal lymphangiogenic response has not been established. Moreover, the temporal relationship between development of fibrosis, inflammation and lymphangiogenesis in chronic progressive kidney disease is not clear yet. Therefore, we evaluated the time course of lymph vessel (LV) formation in relation to proteinuria and interstitial damage in a rat model of chronic unilateral adriamycin nephrosis. Proteinuria and kidneys were evaluated up to 30 weeks after induction of nephrosis. LVs were identified by podoplanin/VEGFR3 double staining. After 6 weeks proteinuria was well-established, without influx of interstitial macrophages and myofibroblasts, collagen deposition, osteopontin expression (tubular activation) or LV formation. At 12 weeks, a ∼3-fold increase in cortical LV density was found (p<0.001), gradually increasing over time. This corresponded with a significant increase in tubular osteopontin expression (p<0.01) and interstitial myofibroblast numbers (p<0.05), whereas collagen deposition and macrophage numbers were not yet increased. VEGF-C was mostly expressed by tubular cells rather than interstitial cells. Cultured tubular cells stimulated with FCS showed a dose-dependent increase in mRNA and protein expression of VEGF-C which was not observed by human albumin stimulation. We conclude that chronic proteinuria provoked lymphangiogenesis in temporal conjunction with tubular osteopontin expression and influx of myofibroblasts, that preceded interstitial fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050209
PMCID: PMC3506584  PMID: 23189189

Results 1-4 (4)