HIV-1 upregulates VEGF in podocytes

Sonal Navin Korgaonkar, Xiaobei Feng, Michael D. Ross, Ting chi Lu, Vivette D'Agati, Ravi Iyengar, Paul E. Klotman, John Cijiang He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is characterized by collapsing FSGS. Because transgenic mice with podocyte-specific overexpression of the vascular endothelial growth factor 164 (VEGF164) isoform also develop collapsing FSGS, we sought to determine whether VEGF plays a role in HIVAN. Compared with controls, immunohistochemistry revealed that kidneys from HIV-1 -transgenic mice (Tg26) and from patients with HIVAN had greater expression of both VEGF and its transcriptional regulator, hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α). Similarly, mRNA and protein levels of VEGF and HIF-2α were increased in HIV-infected podocytes in vitro, and this transcriptional upregulation was found to be stimulated by the HIV viral protein Nef in a Src kinase-and Stat3-dependent manner. HIV-1 also upregulated VEGFR2 and its co-receptor neuropilin-1 and suppressed the expression of semaphorin 3a in the podocyte. Exogenous VEGF stimulated proliferation and de-differentiation of podocytes, which are features of collapsing FSGS, and VEGFR2 neutralizing antibodies reversed these features in podocytes infected with HIV-1 or isolated from Tg26 mice. In conclusion, HIV-1 induces VEGF and VEGFR2 expression in podocytes, and this may be a critical step in the pathogenesis of HIVAN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-883
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


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