Although mesangial cell death has been shown to be correlated with mesangial cell mitosis in vivo, little is known about how these two apparently opposite events are regulated. We show that the addition of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF; 10–50 ng/ml) to primary cultured rat mesangial cells for 24 h caused continuous proliferation along with simultaneous cell death. This process was accompanied by the fragmentation of DNA into nucleosomal oligomers, the development of apoptotic morphological changes in the nucleus, and increased expression of p53. Accumulation of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was also observed in the culture medium, suggesting that both apoptosis and necrosis are involved in the cell death mechanisms observed. We also observed that addition of 30 µM lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) to the culture medium greatly suppressed PDGF-induced cell death, leading to synergistically enhanced mesangial cell proliferation. DNA fragmentation, p53 expression and LDH release were all suppressed by LPA. We suggest that PDGF is a bifunctional molecule in mesangial cells that evokes both cell proliferation and cell death simultaneously, whereas LPA is a survival factor. We speculate that PDGF and LPA may play important roles in the progression or exacerbation of proliferative glomerulonephritis.

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