Circulating soluble Fms-like tyrosine kinase in renal diseases other than preeclampsia
Soluble Fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1/sVEGFR1) is a naturally occurring antagonist of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Despite being a secreted, soluble protein lacking cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains, sFlt-1 can act locally and be protective against excessive microenvironmental VEGF concentration or exert autocrine functions independently of VEGF. Circulating sFlt-1 may indiscriminately affect endothelial function and the microvasculature of distant target organs. The clinical significance of excess sFlt-1 in kidney disease was first shown in preeclampsia, a major renal complication of pregnancy. However, circulating sFlt-1 levels appear to be increased in various diseases with varying degrees of renal impairment. Relevant clinical associations between circulating sFlt-1 and severe outcomes (e.g., endothelial dysfunction, renal impairment, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality) have been observed in patients with CKD and after kidney transplantation. However, sFlt-1 appears to be protective against renal dysfunction-associated aggravation of atherosclerosis and diabetic nephropathy. Therefore, in this study, we provide an update on sFlt-1 in several kidney diseases other than preeclampsia, discuss clinical findings and experimental studies, and briefly consider its use in clinical practice.