Opposite role of CD44-standard and CD44-variant-3 in tubular injury and development of renal fibrosis during chronic obstructive nephropathy

Elena Rampanelli*, Kasper M. A. Rouschop, Nike Claessen, Gwendoline J. D. Teske, Steven T. Pals, Jaklien C. Leemans, Sandrine Florquin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Chronic kidney diseases (CKDs) are characterized by tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis. We previously showed that in obstructive nephropathy de novo CD44 renal expression contributes to renal fibrosis but attenuates tubular damage/apoptosis. As CD44-standard (CD44s) has been linked to TGF-beta 1-mediated actions and CD44-variant-3 (CD44v3) favors HGF-c-Met binding, we compared the functional properties of these CD44 isoforms in the progression of obstructive nephropathy, using specific CD44-variant knockout/knockin mice. The presence of CD44v3 diminished tubular damage during obstructive nephropathy, decreased apoptosis, and increased proliferation of tubular epithelial cells, and prevented renal fibrosis development. In contrast, expression of CD44s led to increased tubular damage and tubular epithelial cell apoptosis, and more renal fibrosis. A relative increase in renal p-catenin expression, HGF production, and HGF/c-Met signaling, together with a relative inhibition of TGF-beta 1 downstream signaling and TGF-beta type I receptor expression, was found in CD44v3 mice compared with CD44s littermates. In line with this, Wnt3a/HGF treatment of tubular cells resulted in higher beta-catenin/p-AKT levels in CD44v3 tubular epithelial cells, whereas TGF-beta 1 induced a mild collagen I upregulation in CD44v3(+) mouse embryonic fibroblasts as compared with CD44s(+) cells. Thus, CD44s and CD44v3 exert opposite roles in the progression of obstructive nephropathy, with CD44v3-v10 being the protective isoform that delays evolution of the renal pathology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-569
JournalKidney International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • CD44
  • HGF
  • TGF
  • UUO
  • Wnt/beta-catenin

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