Heparanase in glomerular diseases

M. J. Van Den Hoven, A. L. Rops, I. Vlodavsky, V. Levidiotis, J. H. Berden, J. Van Der Vlag

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Heparanase is an endo-β(1-4)-D-glucuronidase that degrades heparan sulfate (HS) polysaccharide side chains. The role of heparanase in metastasis, angiogenesis, and inflammation has been established. Recent data suggest a role for heparanase in several proteinuric diseases and an increased glomerular heparanase expression is associated with loss of HS in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). Furthermore, an increase in heparanase activity was detected in urine from proteinuric patients. Mice with transgenic heparanase overexpression developed mild proteinuria. Glomerular heparanase activity is proposed to lead to loss of HS in the GBM and proteinuria. Because the primary role of GBM HS for charge-selective permeability has been questioned recently, heparanase may induce or enhance proteinuria by (i) changes in the glomerular cell-GBM interactions, due to loss of HS; (ii) release of HS-bound factors and HS fragments in glomeruli; or (iii) intracellular signaling by binding of heparanase to glomerular cells. Which of these mechanisms is prevailing requires further research. The precise mechanisms leading to increased heparanase expression in the different glomerular cell types remain elusive, but may involve hyperglycemia, angiotensin II, aldosterone, and reactive oxygen species. This review focuses on the role of heparanase in HS degradation in proteinuric diseases and the possibility/feasibility of heparanase inhibitors, such as heparin(oids), as treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-548
Number of pages6
JournalKidney International
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Glomerulus
  • Heparan sulfate
  • Heparanase
  • Proteinuria
  • Proteoglycans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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