Lymphangiogenesis in renal fibrosis arises from macrophages via VEGF-C/VEGFR3-dependent autophagy and polarization Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractInflammation plays a crucial role in the occurrence and development of renal fibrosis, which ultimately results in end-stage renal disease (ESRD). There is new focus on lymphangiogenesis in the field of inflammation. Recent studies have revealed the association between lymphangiogenesis and renal fibrosis, but the source of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) is not clear. It has also been reported that macrophages are involved in lymphangiogenesis through direct and indirect mechanisms in other tissues. We hypothesized that there was a close relationship between macrophages and lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells in renal fibrosis. In this study, we demonstrated that lymphangiogenesis occurred in a renal fibrosis model and was positively correlated with the degree of fibrosis and macrophage infiltration. Compared to resting (M0) macrophages and alternatively activated (M2) macrophages, classically activated (M1) macrophages predominantly transdifferentiated into LECs in vivo and in vitro. VEGF-C further increased M1 macrophage polarization and transdifferentiation into LECs by activating VEGFR3. It was suggested that VEGF-C/VEGFR3 pathway activation downregulated macrophage autophagy and subsequently regulated macrophage phenotype. The induction of autophagy in macrophages by rapamycin decreased M1 macrophage polarization and differentiation into LECs. These results suggested that M1 macrophages promoted lymphangiogenesis and contributed to newly formed lymphatic vessels in the renal fibrosis microenvironment, and VEGF-C/VEGFR3 signaling promoted macrophage M1 polarization by suppressing macrophage autophagy and then increased the transdifferentiation of M1 macrophages into LECs.


  • Zhang, Ying
  • Zhang, Conghui
  • Li, Lixi
  • Liang, Xinjun
  • Cheng, Peng
  • Li, Qing
  • Chang, Xiaoyan
  • Wang, Kun
  • Huang, Shuai
  • Li, Yueqiang
  • Liu, Yanyan
  • Xu, Gang

publication date

  • January 21, 2021