Vascular growth factors as potential new treatment in cardiorenal syndrome in diabetes

Carlo Alberto Ricciardi*, Luigi Gnudi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cardiorenal syndrome in diabetes is characterised by alterations of the cardiovascular system paralleled by kidney disease with progressive renal function decline. In diabetes, chronic metabolic and haemodynamic perturbations drive endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative stress and progressive tissue fibrosis which, in turn, lead to heart and renal anatomo-functional damage. In physiology, vascular growth factors have been implicated in vascular homeostasis; their imbalance, in disease setting such as diabetes, leads to vascular dysfunction and cardiorenal damage. Aims: To define the role of vascular growth factors and angiopoietins in cardiorenal syndrome. Material and Methods: We will focus on the two most studied vascular growth factors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietins (Angpt). The balance and crosstalk between these growth factors are important in organ development and in the maintenance of a healthy vasculature, heart and kidney. The observed alterations in expression/function of these vascular growth factors, as seen in diabetes, are a protective response against external perturbations. Results: The chronic insults driving diabetes-mediated cardiorenal damage results in a paradoxical situation, whereby the vascular growth factors imbalance becomes a mechanism of disease. Studies have explored the possibility of modulating the expression/action of vascular growth factors to improve disease outcome. Experimental work has been conducted in animals and has been gradually translated in humans. Discussion: Difficulties have been encountered especially when considering the magnitude, timing and duration of interventions targeting a selective vascular growth factor. Targeting VEGF in cardiovascular disease has been challenging, while modulation of the Angpt system seems more promising. Conclusion: Future studies will establish the translatability of therapies targeting vascular growth factors for heart and kidney disease in patients with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13579
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • cardiorenal syndrome
  • endothelial dysfunction
  • fibrosis
  • inflammation
  • vascular growth factors


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