The autocrine and paracrine activation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) within cells of the kidney plays a role in the overall pathophysiology of the renal disease due to diabetes. In this study, we focus on components of the RAS in the podocyte as these cells are important in the pathogenesis of glomerulosclerosis and proteinuria. Immortalized mouse podocytes were exposed to media containing normal glucose (NG) or high glucose (HG) for in vitro studies. In vivo studies utilized kidney tissue obtained from rats treated for 3 months with streptozotocin to induce diabetes. Angiotensinogen (AGT) and the angiotensin II (AII) type 1 receptor mRNA and protein were significantly increased in the podocytes cultured under the high glucose conditions. Both angiotensins I and II levels were significantly higher in cell lysates and the conditioned media of cells grown in high glucose. There were no differences in renin activity, angiotensin-converting enzyme level, or AII type 2 receptor level. Glomerular AGT and AII type 1 receptor assessed by means of immunohistochemistry were increased in diabetic rats compared with the control rats. Other measured components of the RAS within the glomeruli were not different. We suggest that increased AGT, an attendant increase in AII and increased AII type 1 receptor in podocytes experiencing diabetic conditions play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.
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