[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: PPARγ modulates energy metabolism and inflammation. However, its specific functions in the balance of immunity in vivo have been explored incompletely. In this study, by the age of 14 mo, PpargC/− mice with PPARγ expression at 25% of the normal level exhibited high autoantibody levels and developed mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis, which resembled systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like autoimmune disease. These symptoms were preceded by splenomegaly at an early age, which was associated with increases in splenocyte accumulation and B-cell activation but not with relocation of hematopoiesis to the spleen. The mechanism of splenic lymphocyte accumulation involved reduced sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) expression and diminished migration toward S1P in the PpargC/− splenocytes, which impeded lymphocyte egression. Mechanistically, increased Th17 polarization and IL-17 signaling in the PpargC/− CD4+ T cells contributed to B-cell hyperactivation in the spleen. Finally, the activation of the remaining PPARγ in PpargC/− mice by pioglitazone increased S1P1 levels, reduced the Th17 population in the spleen, and ameliorated splenomegaly. Taken together, our data demonstrated that reduction of Pparg expression in T-helper cells is critical for spontaneous SLE-like autoimmune disease development; we also revealed a novel function of PPARγ in lymphocyte trafficking and cross talk between Th17 and B cells.
Full-text · Article · May 2016 · Scientific Reports
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Background:
The Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene encodes for three isoforms in the human population (APOE2, APOE3, and APOE4). While the role of APOE in lipid metabolism is well characterized, the specific metabolic signatures of the APOE isoforms, during metabolic disorders, remain unclear.
To elucidate the molecular underpinnings of APOE-directed metabolic alterations, we tested the hypothesis that APOE4 drives a whole-body metabolic shift toward increased lipid oxidation.
We employed humanized mice in which Apoe gene has been replaced by the human APOE*3 or APOE*4 allele to produce human APOE3 or APOE4 proteins and characterized several mechanisms of fatty acid oxidation, lipid storage, substrate utilization and thermogenesis in those mice.
We show that while APOE4 mice gained less body weight and mass than their APOE3 counterparts on a Western-type diet (P<0.001), they displayed elevated insulin and HOMA, markers of insulin resistance (P=0.004 and P=0.025, respectively). APOE4 mice also demonstrated a reduced respiratory quotient during the postprandial period (0.95±0.03 vs 1.06±0.03, P<0.001), indicating increased usage of lipids as opposed to carbohydrates as a fuel source. Finally, APOE4 mice showed increased body temperature (37.30±0.68 vs 36.9±0.58 °C, P=0.039), augmented cold tolerance, and more metabolically active brown adipose tissue compared to APOE3 mice.
These data suggest that APOE4 mice may resist weight gain via an APOE4-directed global metabolic shift toward lipid oxidation and enhanced thermogenesis, and may represent a critical first step in the development of APOE-directed therapies for a large percentage of the population affected by disorders with established links to APOE and metabolism.International Journal of Obesity accepted article preview online, 10 May 2016. doi:10.1038/ijo.2016.93.
No preview · Article · May 2016 · International journal of obesity (2005)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Loss of integrity and massive disruption of elastic fibers are key features of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) has been shown to attenuate AAA through inhibition of inflammation and proteolytic degradation. However, its involvement in elastogenesis during AAA remains unclear. PPARγ was highly expressed in human AAA within all vascular cells, including inflammatory cells and fibroblasts. In the aortas of transgenic mice expressing PPARγ at 25% normal levels (Pparg(C) (/-)mice), we observed the fragmentation of elastic fibers and reduced expression of vital elastic fiber components of elastin and fibulin-5. These were not observed in mice with 50% normal PPARγ expression (Pparg(+/-)mice). Infusion of a moderate dose of angiotensin II (500 ng/kg per minute) did not induce AAA butPparg(+/-)aorta developed flattened elastic lamellae, whereasPparg(C/-)aorta showed severe destruction of elastic fibers. After infusion of angiotensin II at 1000 ng/kg per minute, 73% ofPparg(C/-)mice developed atypical suprarenal aortic aneurysms: superior mesenteric arteries were dilated with extensive collagen deposition in adventitia and infiltrations of inflammatory cells. Although matrix metalloproteinase inhibition by doxycycline somewhat attenuated the dilation of aneurysm, it did not reduce the incidence nor elastic lamella deterioration in angiotensin II-infusedPparg(C/-)mice. Furthermore, PPARγ antagonism downregulated elastin and fibulin-5 in fibroblasts, but not in vascular smooth muscle cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated PPARγ binding in the genomic sequence of fibulin-5 in fibroblasts. Our results underscore the importance of PPARγ in AAA development though orchestrating proper elastogenesis and preserving elastic fiber integrity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Background:
S-nitrosylation of mitochondrial enzymes involved in energy transfer under nitrosative stress may result in ATP deficiency. We investigated whether α-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant, could alleviate nitrosative stress by regulating S-nitrosylation, which could result in retaining the mitochondrial enzyme activity.
In this study, we have identified the S-nitrosylated forms of subunit 1 of dihydrolipoyllysine succinyltransferase (complex III), and subunit 2 of the α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex by implementing a fluorescence-based differential quantitative proteomics method.
We found that the activities of these two mitochondrial enzymes were partially but reversibly inhibited by S-nitrosylation in cultured endothelial cells, and that their activities were partially restored by supplementation of α-lipoic acid. We show that protein S-nitrosylation affects the activity of mitochondrial enzymes that are central to energy supply, and that α-lipoic acid protects mitochondrial enzymes by altering S-nitrosylation levels.
Inhibiting protein S-nitrosylation with α-lipoic acid seems to be a protective mechanism against nitrosative stress.
Identification and characterization of these new protein targets should contribute to expanding the therapeutic power of α-lipoic acid and to a better understanding of the underlying antioxidant mechanisms.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Collaterals lessen tissue injury in occlusive disease. However, aging causes progressive decline in their number and smaller diameters in those that remain (collateral rarefaction), beginning at 16 months of age in mice (i.e., middle age), and worse ischemic injury-effects that are accelerated in even 3-month-old eNOS(-/-) mice. These findings have found indirect support in recent human studies.
We sought to determine whether other cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) associated with endothelial dysfunction cause collateral rarefaction, investigate possible mechanisms, and test strategies for prevention.
Mice with nine different models of CVRFs of 4-12 months of age were assessed for number and diameter of native collaterals in skeletal muscle and brain and for collateral-dependent perfusion and ischemic injury after arterial occlusion. Hypertension caused collateral rarefaction whose severity increased with duration and level of hypertension, accompanied by greater hindlimb ischemia and cerebral infarct volume. Chronic treatment of wild-type mice with L-N (G)-nitro-arginine methylester caused similar rarefaction and worse ischemic injury which were not prevented by lowering arterial pressure with hydralazine. Metabolic syndrome, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and obesity also caused collateral rarefaction. Neither chronic statin treatment nor exercise training lessened hypertension-induced rarefaction.
Chronic CVRF presence caused collateral rarefaction and worse ischemic injury, even at relatively young ages. Rarefaction was associated with increased proliferation rate of collateral endothelial cells, effects that may promote accelerated endothelial cell senescence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The genetic background of apolipoprotein E (apoE) deficient mice influences atherosclerotic plaque development. We previously reported three quantitative trait loci (QTL), Aath1-Aath3, that affect aortic arch atherosclerosis independently of those in the aortic root in a cross between C57BL6 apoEKO mice (B6-apoE) and 129S6 apoEKO mice (129-apoE). To gain further insight into genetic factors that influence atherosclerosis at different vascular locations, we analyzed 335 F2 mice from an intercross between 129-apoE and apoEKO mice on a DBA/2J genetic background (DBA-apoE). The extent of atherosclerosis in the aortic arch was very similar in the two parental strains. Nevertheless, a genome-wide scan identified two significant QTL for plaque size in the aortic arch: Aath4 on Chromosome (Chr) 2 at 137 Mb and Aath5 on Chr 10 at 51 Mb. The DBA alleles of Aath4 and Aath5 respectively confer susceptibility and resistance to aortic arch atherosclerosis over 129 alleles. Both QTL are also independent of those affecting plaque size at the aortic root. Genome analysis suggests that athero-susceptibility of Aath4 in DBA may be contributed by multiple genes, including Mertk and Cd93, that play roles in phagocytosis of apoptotic cells and modulate inflammation. A candidate gene for Aath5 is Stab2, the DBA allele of which is associated with 10 times higher plasma hyaluronan than the 129 allele. Overall, our identification of two new QTL that affect atherosclerosis in an aortic arch-specific manner further supports the involvement of distinct pathological processes at different vascular locations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in African Americans. However, there is a paucity of studies assessing genetic determinants of CHD in African Americans. We examined the association of published variants in CHD loci with incident CHD, attempted to fine map these loci, and characterize novel variants influencing CHD risk in African Americans.
Up to 8,201 African Americans (including 546 first CHD events) were genotyped using the MetaboChip array in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and Women's Health Initiative (WHI). We tested associations using Cox proportional hazard models in sex- and study-stratified analyses and combined results using meta-analysis. Among 44 validated CHD loci available in the array, we replicated and fine-mapped the SORT1 locus, and showed same direction of effects as reported in studies of individuals of European ancestry for SNPs in 22 additional published loci. We also identified a SNP achieving array wide significance (MYC: rs2070583, allele frequency 0.02, P = 8.1×10-8), but the association did not replicate in an additional 8,059 African Americans (577 events) from the WHI, HealthABC and GeneSTAR studies, and in a meta-analysis of 5 cohort studies of European ancestry (24,024 individuals including 1,570 cases of MI and 2,406 cases of CHD) from the CHARGE Consortium.
Our findings suggest that some CHD loci previously identified in individuals of European ancestry may be relevant to incident CHD in African Americans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Reducing dilute aqueous HAuCl4 with NaSCN under alkaline conditions is known to produce 2 to 3 nm diameter yellow nanoparticles without the addition of extraneous capping agents. We here describe two very simple methods for producing highly stable oligomeric grape-like clusters (oligoclusters) of these small nanoparticles. The oligoclusters have well-controlled diameters ranging from ~5 nm to ~30 nm, depending mainly on the number of subunits in the cluster. Our first ["delay-time"] method controls the size of the oligoclusters by varying from seconds to hours the delay time between making the HAuCl4 alkaline and adding the reducing agent, NaSCN. Our second ["add-on"] method controls size by using yellow nanoparticles as seeds onto which varying amounts of gold derived from "hydroxylated gold", Na+[Au(OH4-x)Clx]-, are added-on catalytically in the presence of NaSCN. Possible reaction mechanisms and a simple kinetic model fitting the data are discussed. The crude oligocluster preparations have narrow size distributions, and for most purposes do not require fractionation. The oligoclusters do not aggregate after ~300-fold centrifugal-filter concentration, and at this high concentration are easily derivatized with a variety of thiol-containing reagents. This allows rare or expensive derivatizing reagents to be used economically. Unlike conventional glutathione-capped nanoparticles of comparable gold content, large oligoclusters derivatized with glutathione do not aggregate at high concentrations in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or in the circulation when injected into mice. The oligoclusters are not overtly toxic. Their sizes can be made small enough to allow their excretion in the urine or large enough to prevent them from crossing capillary basement membranes. Consequently they can be used as tracers for studies of the biological fate of macromolecules with controlled sizes and charges. The ease of derivatizing the oligoclusters makes them potentially useful for presenting pharmacological agents to different tissues while controlling escape of the reagents from the circulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Impaired adipogenesis renders an adipose tissue unable to expand, leading to lipotoxicity and conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While factors important for adipogenesis have been studied extensively, those that set the limits of adipose tissue expansion remain undetermined. Feeding a Western-type diet to apolipoprotein E2 knock-in mice, a model of metabolic syndrome, produced 3 groups of equally obese mice: mice with normal glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemic yet glucose-tolerant mice, and prediabetic mice with impaired glucose tolerance and reduced circulating insulin. Using proteomics, we compared subcutaneous adipose tissues from mice in these groups and found that the expression of PTRF (polymerase I and transcript release factor) associated selectively with their glucose tolerance status. Lentiviral and pharmacologically overexpressed PTRF, whose function is critical for caveola formation, compromised adipocyte differentiation of cultured 3T3-L1cells. In human adipose tissue, PTRF mRNA levels positively correlated with markers of lipolysis and cellular senescence. Furthermore, a negative relationship between telomere length and PTRF mRNA levels was observed in human subcutaneous fat. PTRF is associated with limited adipose tissue expansion underpinning the key role of caveolae in adipocyte regulation. Furthermore, PTRF may be a suitable adipocyte marker for predicting pathological obesity and inform clinical management.-Perez-Diaz, S., Johnson, L. A., DeKroon, R. M., Moreno-Navarrete, J. M., Alzate, O., Fernandez-Real, J. M., Maeda, N., Arbones-Mainar, J. M. Polymerase I and transcript release factor (PTRF) regulates adipocyte differentiation and determines adipose tissue expandability.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · The FASEB Journal
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) regulate matrix metalloproteinase activity and maintain extracellular matrix homeostasis. Although TIMP-3 has multiple functions (e.g., apoptosis, inhibition of VEGF binding to VEGF receptor, and inhibition of TNFα converting enzyme), its roles in thermogenesis and metabolism, which influence energy expenditure and can lead to the development of metabolic disorders when dysregulated, are poorly understood. This study aimed to determine whether TIMP-3 is implicated in metabolism by analyzing TIMP-3 knockout (KO) mice. TIMP-3 KO mice had higher body temperature, oxygen consumption, and carbon dioxide production than wild-type (WT) mice, although there were no differences in food intake and locomotor activity. These results suggest that metabolism is enhanced in TIMP-3 KO mice. Real-time PCR analysis showed that the expression of PPAR-δ, UCP-2, NRF-1 and NRF-2 in soleus muscle, and PGC-1α and UCP-2 in gastrocnemius muscle, was higher in TIMP-3 KO mice than in WT mice, suggesting that TIMP-3 deficiency may increase mitochondrial activity. When exposed to cold for 8 hours to induce thermogenesis, TIMP-3 KO mice had a higher body temperature than WT mice. In the treadmill test, oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were higher in TIMP-3 KO mice both before and after starting exercise, and the difference was more pronounced after starting exercise. Our findings suggest that TIMP-3 KO mice exhibit enhanced metabolism, as reflected by a higher body temperature than WT mice, possibly due to increased mitochondrial activity. Given that TIMP-3 deficiency increases energy expenditure, TIMP-3 may present a novel therapeutic target for preventing metabolic disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Hypothermia is a key symptom of sepsis, but the mechanism(s) leading to hypothermia during sepsis is largely unknown and thus no effective therapy is available for hypothermia. Therefore, it is important to investigate the mechanisms and develop effective therapeutic methods. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced hypothermia accompanied by excess nitric oxide (NO) production, lead to a reduction in energy production in wild type mice. However, mice lacking inducible nitric oxide synthase did not suffer from LPS-induced hypothermia, suggesting that hypothermia is associated with excess NO production during sepsis. This observation is supported by the treatment of wild type mice with α-lipoic acid (LA) in that it effectively attenuates LPS-induced hypothermia with decreased NO production. We also found that LA partially restored ATP production, and activities of the mitochondrial enzymes involved in energy metabolism, which were inhibited during sepsis. These data suggest that hypothermia is related to mitochondrial dysfunction, which is likely compromised by excess NO production and that LA administration attenuates hypothermia mainly by protecting mitochondrial enzymes from NO damage.
No preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Free Radical Biology and Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Apolipoprotein E-null mice on a DBA/2J genetic background (DBA-apoE) are highly susceptible to atherosclerosis in the aortic root area compared with those on a 129S6 background (129-apoE). To explore atherosclerosis-responsible genetic regions, we performed a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis using 172 male and 137 female F2 derived from an intercross between DBA-apoE and 129-apoE mice. A genome-wide scan identified two significant QTL for the size of lesions at the root: one is Ath44 on Chromosome (Chr) 1 at 158 Mb, and the other Ath45 on Chr 2 at 162 Mb. Ath44 co-localizes with but appears to be independent of a previously reported QTL, Ath1, while Ath45 is a novel QTL. DBA alleles of both Ath44 and Ath45 confer atherosclerosis-susceptibility. In addition, a QTL on Chr 14 at 73 Mb was found significant only in males, and 129 allele conferring susceptibility. Further analysis detected female-specific interactions between a second QTL on Chr 1 at 73 Mb and a QTL on Chr 3 at 21 Mb, and between Chr 7 at 84 Mb and Chr 12 at 77 Mb. These loci for the root atherosclerosis were independent of QTLs for plasma total cholesterol and QTLs for triglycerides, but a QTL for HDL (Chr 1 at 126 Mb) overlapped with the Ath44. Notably, haplotype analysis among 129S6, DBA/2J and C57BL/6 genomes and their gene expression data narrowed the candidate regions for Ath44 and Ath45 to less than 5 Mb intervals where multiple genome wide associations with cardiovascular phenotypes have also been reported in humans. SNPs in or near Fmo3, Sele and Selp for Ath44, and Lbp and Pkig for Ath45 were suggested for further investigation as potential candidates underlying the atherosclerosis susceptibility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Human apolipoprotein E (apoE) exists in three isoforms: apoE2, apoE3 and apoE4. APOE ε4 (E4) is a major genetic risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). ApoE mediates cholesterol metabolism by binding various receptors. The low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) has a high affinity for apoE, and is the only member of its receptor family to demonstrate an apoE isoform specific binding affinity (E4>E3>E2). Evidence suggests that a functional interaction between apoE and LDLR influences the risk of CVD and AD. We hypothesize that the differential cognitive effects of the apoE isoforms are a direct result of their varying interactions with LDLR. To test this hypothesis, we have employed transgenic mice that express human apoE2, apoE3, or apoE4, and either human LDLR (hLDLR) or no LDLR (LDLR-/-). Our results show that plasma and brain apoE levels, cortical cholesterol, and spatial memory are all regulated by isoform-dependent interactions between apoE and LDLR. Conversely, both anxiety-like behavior and cued associative memory are strongly influenced by APOE genotype, but these processes appear to occur via an LDLR-independent mechanism. Both the lack of LDLR and the interaction between E4 and the LDLR were associated with significant impairments in the retention of long term spatial memory. Finally, levels of hippocampal apoE correlate with long term spatial memory retention in mice with human LDLR. In summary, we demonstrate that the apoE-LDLR interaction affects regional brain apoE levels, brain cholesterol, and cognitive function in an apoE isoform-dependent manner.
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Neurobiology of Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: We performed in vivo micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) imaging using a novel carbon nanotube (CNT)-based x-ray source to detect calcification in the aortic arch of apolipoprotein E (apoE)-null mice.
We measured calcification volume of aortic arch plaques using CNT-based micro-CT in 16- to 18-month-old males on 129S6/SvEvTac and C57BL/6J genetic backgrounds (129-apoE KO and B6-apoE KO). Cardiac and respiratory gated images were acquired in each mouse under anesthesia. Images obtained using a CNT micro-CT had less motion blur and better spatial resolution for aortic calcification than those using conventional micro-CT, evaluated by edge sharpness (slope of the normalized attenuation units, 1.6±0.3 versus 0.8±0.2) and contrast-to-noise ratio of the calcifications (118±34 versus 10±2); both P<0.05, n=6. Calcification volume in the arch inner curvature was 4 times bigger in the 129-apoE KO than in the B6-apoE KO mice (0.90±0.18 versus 0.22±0.10 mm(3), P<0.01, n=7 and 5, respectively), whereas plaque areas in the inner curvature measured in dissected aorta were only twice as great in the 129-apoE KO than in the B6-apoE KO mice (6.1±0.6 versus 3.7±0.4 mm(2), P<0.05). Consistent with this, histological calcification area in the plaques was significantly higher in the 129-apoE KO than in the B6-apoE KO mice (16.9±2.0 versus 9.6±0.8%, P<0.05, 3 animals for each).
A novel CNT-based micro-CT is a useful tool to evaluate vascular calcifications in living mice. Quantification from acquired images suggests higher susceptibility to calcification of the aortic arch plaques in 129-apoE KO than in B6-apoE KO mice.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Journal of the American Heart Association
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Much concern has arisen regarding critical adverse effects of thiazolidinediones (TZDs), including rosiglitazone and pioglitazone, on cardiac tissue. Although TZD-induced cardiac hypertrophy (CH) has been attributed to an increase in plasma volume or a change in cardiac nutrient preference, causative roles have not been established. To test the hypothesis that volume expansion directly mediates rosiglitazone-induced CH, mice were fed a high-fat diet with rosiglitazone, and cardiac and metabolic consequences were examined. Rosiglitazone treatment induced volume expansion and CH in wild-type and PPARγ heterozygous knockout (Pparg(+/-)) mice, but not in mice defective for ligand binding (Pparg(P465L/+)). Cotreatment with the diuretic furosemide in wild-type mice attenuated rosiglitazone-induced CH, hypertrophic gene reprogramming, cardiomyocyte apoptosis, hypertrophy-related signal activation, and left ventricular dysfunction. Similar changes were observed in mice treated with pioglitazone. The diuretics spironolactone and trichlormethiazide, but not amiloride, attenuated rosiglitazone effects on volume expansion and CH. Interestingly, expression of glucose and lipid metabolism genes in the heart was altered by rosiglitazone, but these changes were not attenuated by furosemide cotreatment. Importantly, rosiglitazone-mediated whole-body metabolic improvements were not affected by furosemide cotreatment. We conclude that releasing plasma volume reduces adverse effects of TZD-induced volume expansion and cardiac events without compromising TZD actions in metabolic switch in the heart and whole-body insulin sensitivity.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Changes in expression of ECM-related genes in embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) derived from wild-type and knockout embryos following exposure to high glucose. Expression was determined using an expression profiling kit (product #PM-012B, SA Biosciences). mRNA levels are expressed as mean ± SD relative to mRNA levels for glyceraldehye-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. NS – not significant.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Masson-Trichrome stained sections of pancreas from Ctgf wildtype (A) and heterozygous (B) mice. Immunohistochemical studies from wildtype (C) and heterozygous (D) identifying insulin-staining beta cells (yellow-red) and glucagon-staining alpha cells (green) in pancreatic islets. Exocrine pancreas (red) and DAPI stained nuclei (blue) are also shown in panels C and D; Magnification ×400.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is an important mediator of fibrosis; emerging evidence link changes in plasma and urinary CTGF levels to diabetic kidney disease. To further ascertain the role of CTGF in responses to high glucose, we assessed the consequence of 4 months of streptozotocin-induced diabetes in wild type (+/+) and CTGF heterozygous (+/-) mice. Subsequently, we studied the influence of glucose on gene expression and protein in mice embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) cells derived from wildtype and heterozygous mice. At study initiation, plasma glucose, creatinine, triglyceride and cholesterol levels were similar between non-diabetic CTGF+/+ and CTGF+/- mice. In the diabetic state, plasma glucose levels were increased in CTGF+/+ and CTGF+/- mice (28.2 3.3 mmol/L vs 27.0 3.1 mmol/L), plasma triglyceride levels were lower in CTGF+/- mice than in CTGF+/+ (0.7 0.2 mmol/L vs 0.5 0.1 mmol/L, p<0.05), but cholesterol was essentially unchanged in both groups. Plasma creatinine was higher in diabetic CTGF+/+ group (11.7±1.2 vs 7.9±0.6 µmol/L p<0.01), while urinary albumin excretion and mesangial expansion were reduced in diabetic CTGF+/- animals. Cortices from diabetic mice (both CTGF +/+ and CTGF +/-) manifested higher expression of CTGF and thrombospondin 1 (TSP1). Expression of nephrin was reduced in CTGF +/+ animals; this reduction was attenuated in CTGF+/- group. In cultured MEF from CTGF+/+ mice, glucose (25 mM) increased expression of pro-collagens 1, IV and XVIII as well as fibronectin and thrombospondin 1 (TSP1). In contrast, activation of these genes by high glucose was attenuated in CTGF+/- MEF. We conclude that induction of Ctgf mediates expression of extracellular matrix proteins in diabetic kidney. Thus, genetic variability in CTGF expression directly modulates the severity of diabetic nephropathy.