Connective tissue growth factor regulates fibrosis-associated renal lymphangiogenesis

Hiroshi Kinashi, Lucas L. Falke, Tri Q. Nguyen, Niels Bovenschen, Jan Aten, Andrew Leask, Yasuhiko Ito, Roel Goldschmeding

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Lymphangiogenesis is correlated with the degree of renal interstitial fibrosis. Pro-fibrotic transforming growth factor beta induces VEGF-C production, the main driver of lymphangiogenesis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is an important determinant of fibrotic tissue remodeling, but its possible involvement in lymphangiogenesis has not been explored. We found prominent lymphangiogenesis during tubulointerstitial fibrosis to be associated with increased expression of CTGF and VEGF-C in human obstructed nephropathy as well as in diabetic kidney disease. Using CTGF knockout mice, we investigated the involvement of CTGF in development of fibrosis and associated lymphangiogenesis in obstructive nephropathy. The increase of lymphatic vessels and VEGF-C in obstructed kidneys was significantly reduced in CTGF knockout compared to wild-type mice. Also in mouse kidneys subjected to ischemia-reperfusion injury, CTGF knockdown was associated with reduced lymphangiogenesis. In vitro, CTGF induced VEGF-C production in HK-2 cells, while CTGF siRNA suppressed transforming growth factor beta 1-induced VEGF-C upregulation. Furthermore, surface plasmon resonance analysis showed that CTGF and VEGF-C directly interact. Interestingly, VEGF-C-induced capillary-like tube formation by human lymphatic endothelial cells was suppressed by full-length CTGF but not by naturally occurring proteolytic CTGF fragments. Thus, CTGF is significantly involved in fibrosis-associated renal lymphangiogenesis through regulation of, and direct interaction with, VEGF-C
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-863
JournalKidney international
Issue number4
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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