Expansion of extracellular matrix with fibrosis occurs in many tissues as part of the end-organ complications in diabetes, and advanced glycosylation end products (AGE) are implicated as one causative factor in diabetic tissue fibrosis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), also known as insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-related protein-2 (IGFBP-rP2), is a potent inducer of extracellular matrix synthesis and angiogenesis and is increased in tissues from rodent models of diabetes. The aim of this study was to determine whether CTGF is up-regulated by AGE in vitro and to explore the cellular mechanisms involved. AGE treatment of primary cultures of nonfetal human dermal fibroblasts in confluent monolayer increased CTGF steady state messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in a time- and dose-dependent manner. In contrast, mRNAs for other IGFBP superfamily members, IGFBP-rP1 (mac 25) and IGFBP-3, were not up-regulated by AGE. The effect of the AGE BSA reagent on CTGF mRNA was due to nonenzymatic glycosylation of BSA and, using neutralizing antisera to AGE and to the receptor for AGE, termed RAGE, was seen to be due to late products of nonenzymatic glycosylation and was partly mediated by RAGE. Reactive oxygen species as well as endogenous transforming growth factor-β1 could not explain the AGE effect on CTGF mRNA. AGE also increased CTGF protein in the conditioned medium and cell-associated CTGF. Thus, AGE up-regulates the profibrotic and proangiogenic protein CTGF (IGFBP-rP2), a finding that may have significance in the development of diabetic complications.
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