Cellular basis of diabetic nephropathy: III. In vitro GLUT1 mRNA expression and risk of diabetic nephropathy in Type 1 diabetic patients

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Aims/hypothesisAltered glucose transporter expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. There is increasing evidence that genetic factors convey risk of, or protection from, diabetic nephropathy and that the behaviour of cultured skin fibroblasts from Type 1 diabetic patients may reflect these genetic influences. This study aimed to compare GLUT1 mRNA expression levels in skin fibroblasts from Type 1 diabetic patients with either rapid (“fast-track”, n=25) or slow (“slow-track”, n=25) development of diabetic nephropathy and from non-diabetic normal control subjects (controls, n=25).MethodsSkin fibroblasts were cultured in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium with 25 mmol/l glucose for 36 h. Total RNA was isolated, and GLUT1 mRNA levels were estimated by microarray analysis and RT-PCR.ResultsLevels of GLUT1 mRNA expression in skin fibroblasts from “slow-track” patients were greater than those from “fast-track” patients (p=0.02), as initially detected by microarray. GLUT1 mRNA expression levels were confirmed by RT-PCR to be higher in skin fibroblasts from “slow-track” patients (4.59±2.04) than in those from “fast-track” patients (3.34±1.2, p=0.02), and were also higher than in skin fibroblasts from control subjects (3.52±1.66, p=0.03). There was no statistically significant difference between levels of expression in the “fast-track” patients and the control subjects.Conclusions/interpretationThis finding is consistent with the presence of cellular protection factors against diabetic nephropathy in the “slow-track” patients. These factors could be associated with the regulation of the GLUT1 pathway and may be genetically determined.

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