Connective tissue growth factor(CCN2), a pathogenic factor in diabetic nephropathy. What does it do? How does it do it?

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Abstract

Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) is a member of the CCN family of matricellular proteins. Its expression is induced by a number of factors including TGF-β. It has been associated with fibrosis in various tissues including the kidney. Diabetic nephropathy (DN) develops in about 30% of patients with diabetes and is characterized by thickening of renal basement membranes, fibrosis in the glomerulus (glomerulosclerosis), tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis, all of which compromise kidney function. This review examines changes in CTGF expression in the kidney in DN, the effects they have on glomerular mesangial and podocyte cells and the tubulointerstitium, and how these contribute to driving fibrotic changes in the disease. CTGF can bind to several other growth factors modifying their function. CTGF is also able to interact with receptors on cells, including integrins, tyrosine receptor kinase A (TrkA), low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) and heparan sulphate proteoglycans. These interactions, the intracellular signalling pathways they activate, and the cellular responses evoked are reviewed. CTGF also induces the expression of chemokines which themselves have pharmacological actions on cells. CTGF may prompt some responses by acting through several different mechanisms, possibly simultaneously. For example, CTGF is often described as an effector of TGF-β. It can promote TGF-β signalling by binding directly to the growth factor, promoting its interaction with the TGF-β receptor; by triggering intracellular signalling on binding the TrkA receptor, which leads to the transcriptional repression of Smad7, an inhibitor of the TGF-β signalling pathway; and by binding to BMP-7 whose own signalling pathway opposing TGF-β is inhibited, leading to enhanced TGF-β signalling.

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