Expert reviews in molecular medicine

The role of endoglin in kidney fibrosis.

PMID 25439793


Tubulointerstitial fibrosis and glomerulosclerosis, are a major feature of end stage chronic kidney disease (CKD), characterised by an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) is a cytokine with an important role in many steps of renal fibrosis such as myofibroblast activation and proliferation, ECM protein synthesis and inflammatory cell infiltration. Endoglin is a TGF-β co-receptor that modulates TGF-β responses in different cell types. In numerous cells types, such as mesangial cells or myoblasts, endoglin regulates negatively TGF-β-induced ECM protein expression. However, recently it has been demonstrated that 'in vivo' endoglin promotes fibrotic responses. Furthermore, several studies have demonstrated an increase of endoglin expression in experimental models of renal fibrosis in the kidney and other tissues. Nevertheless, the role of endoglin in renal fibrosis development is unclear and a question arises: Does endoglin protect against renal fibrosis or promotes its development? The purpose of this review is to critically analyse the recent knowledge relating to endoglin and renal fibrosis. Knowledge of endoglin role in this pathology is necessary to consider endoglin as a possible therapeutic target against renal fibrosis.