Advanced glycosylation endproducts (AGEs) are derived from the nonenzymatic addition of glucose to proteins. AGEs have been found to accumulate on tissue proteins in patients with diabetes, and their accumulation is thought to play a role in the development of diabetic complications. The finding that macrophages and endothelial cells contain AGE-specific receptors led us to examine whether mesangial cells (MCs) also possess a mechanism for recognizing and processing AGEs. Membrane extracts isolated from rat and human MCs were found to bind AGE-bovine serum albumin (BSA) in a saturable fashion, with a binding affinity of 2.0 +/- 0.4 x 10(6) M-1 (500 nM). The binding was specific for the AGE adduct, since AGE-modified collagen I and ribonuclease both competitively inhibited 125I-AGE-BSA binding to MC membranes, while the unmodified proteins did not compete. Binding of AGE proteins was followed by slow internalization and degradation of the ligand. Ligand blotting of MC membrane extracts demonstrated three distinct AGE-binding membrane proteins of 50, 40, and 30 kD. Growth of MCs on various AGE-modified matrix proteins resulted in alterations in MC function, as demonstrated by enhanced production of fibronectin and decreased proliferation. These results point to the potential role that the interaction of AGE-modified proteins with MCs may play in vivo in promoting diabetic kidney disease.

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