Recent studies have demonstrated a role for microvascular and tubulointerstitial injury in some models of salt-sensitive hypertension. We utilized a model of post-cyclosporin A (CsA) nephropathy and hypertension to test the hypothesis that treatment with an angiogenic factor aimed at ameliorating the microvascular and renal injury would prevent the development of hypertension. CsA was administered with a low-salt diet for 45 days, resulting in a renal lesion characterized by afferent arteriolopathy, focal peritubular capillary loss, and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Rats were then placed on a high-salt diet and randomized to receive either vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF121) or vehicle for 14 days. Placement of rats with established CsA nephropathy on a high-salt diet results in the rapid development of salt-sensitive hypertension. VEGF121 treatment resulted in lower blood pressure, and this persisted on discontinuing the VEGF. VEGF121 treatment was also associated with a decrease in osteopontin expression, macrophage infiltration, and collagen III deposition and markedly stimulated resolution of the arteriolopathy (20.9 ± 7.8 vs. 36.9 ± 6.1%, VEGF vs. vehicle, P < 0.05). In conclusion, CsA-associated renal microvascular and tubulointerstitial injury results in the development of salt-sensitive hypertension. Treatment of animals with established CsA nephropathy with VEGF reduces the hypertensive response and accelerates histological recovery. The vascular protective effect of VEGF may be due to the improvement of arteriolopathy. Angiogenic growth factors may represent a novel strategy for treating CsA-associated hypertension and renal disease.
- Salt-sensitive hypertension