Relevance of insulin-like growth factor 2 in the etiopathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy: Possible roles of phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome 10 and secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine as regulators of repair

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Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a devastating complication of diabetes, the exact molecular pathophysiology of which is not well established. Hyperglycemia increases insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), especially IGF2, which acts via the IGF1 receptor present on renal cells. Elevated glucose levels damage the kidney, which is repaired by modulators such as secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC). Hence, it was hypothesized that IGF2 and SPARC may have an important role in the etiology of DN.


Human renal biopsies, histopathologically categorized as normal, early Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), or established DN, were analyzed for the localization and expression of IGF2, its negative regulator phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome 10 (PTEN), and SPARC.


Expression of IGF2, PTEN, and SPARC was increased in renal biopsies from T2DM patients compared with normal samples. Although IGF2 protein was increased in biopsies from DN patients, PTEN and SPARC levels were decreased. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction indicated that transcript levels of IGF2 and PTEN were greater than those of β-actin in all human renal biopsy samples.


The results suggest the following molecular etiopathophysiology of DN: (i) hyperglycemia upregulates IGF2, which initiates PTEN, a regulator of IGF2 signaling; (ii) loss of this IGF2-PTEN feedback loop causes changes that are characteristic of DN; and (iii) lowered expression of the repair modulator SPARC results in the development and/or progression of DN. Hence, targeting relevant modulators, such as like IGF2, PTEN, and SPARC, may be important in the management of DN.

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