Mesangioproliferative Kidney Diseases and Platelet-Derived Growth Factor–Mediated AXL Phosphorylation

Academic Article


  • Rationale & Objective: Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) is a common glomerular disease, with mesangial cell proliferation as a major feature. There is no disease-specific treatment. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) contributes to the pathogenesis of IgAN. To better understand its pathogenic mechanisms, we assessed PDGF-mediated AXL phosphorylation in human mesangial cells and kidney tissue biopsy specimens. Study Design: Immunostaining using human kidney biopsy specimens and in vitro studies using primary human mesangial cells. Setting & Participants: Phosphorylation of AXL was assessed in cultured mesangial cells and 10 kidney-biopsy specimens from 5 patients with IgAN, 3 with minimal change disease, 1 with membranous nephropathy, and 1 with mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis (GN). Predictor: Glomerular staining for phospho-AXL in kidney biopsy specimens of patients with mesangioproliferative diseases. Outcomes: Phosphorylated AXL detected in biopsy tissues of patients with IgAN and mesangioproliferative GN and in cultured mesangial cells stimulated with PDGF. Analytic Approach: t test, Mann-Whitney test, and analysis of variance were used to assess the significance of mesangial cell proliferative changes. Results: Immunohistochemical staining revealed enhanced phosphorylation of glomerular AXL in IgAN and mesangioproliferative GN, but not in minimal change disease and membranous nephropathy. Confocal-microscopy immunofluorescence analysis indicated that mesangial cells rather than endothelial cells or podocytes expressed phospho-AXL. Kinomic profiling of primary mesangial cells treated with PDGF revealed activation of several protein-tyrosine kinases, including AXL. Immunoprecipitation experiments indicated association of AXL and PDGF receptor proteins. An AXL-specific inhibitor (bemcentinib) partially blocked PDGF-induced cellular proliferation and reduced phosphorylation of AXL and PDGF receptor and the downstream signals (AKT1 and ERK1/2). Limitations: Small number of kidney biopsy specimens to correlate the activation of AXL with disease severity. Conclusions: PDGF-mediated signaling in mesangial cells involves transactivation of AXL. Finding appropriate inhibitors to block PDGF-mediated transactivation of AXL may provide new therapeutic options for mesangioproliferative kidney diseases such as IgAN.
  • Published In

  • Kidney Medicine  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bian Q; Anderson JC; Zhang XW; Huang ZQ; Ebefors K; Nyström J; Hall S; Novak L; Julian BA; Willey CD
  • Start Page

  • 1003
  • End Page

  • 1013.e1
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 6