Diabetic nephropathy (DN) often develops in patients suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus. DN is characterized by renal injury resulting in proteinuria. Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) is a single-pass transmembrane receptor protein devoid of enzymatic activity. Its large extracellular tail is structured in several domains, thereby allowing the molecule to interact with multiple ligands linking NRP-1 to different pathways through its signaling co-receptors. NRP-1’s role in nervous system development, immunity, and more recently in cancer, has been extensively investigated. Although its relation to regulation of apoptosis and cytoskeleton organization of glomerular vascular endothelial cells was reported, its function in diabetes mellitus and the development of DN is less clear. Several lines of evidence demonstrate a reduced NRP-1 expression in glycated-BSA cultured differentiated podocytes as well as in glomeruli from db/db
mice (a model of type 2 Diabetes) and in diabetic patients diagnosed with DN. In vitro
studies of podocytes implicated NRP-1 in the regulation of podocytes’ adhesion to extracellular matrix proteins, cytoskeleton reorganization, and apoptosis via not completely understood mechanisms. However, the exact role of NRP-1 during the onset of DN is not yet understood. This review intends to shed more light on NRP-1 and to present a link between NRP-1 and its signaling complexes in the development of DN.
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