Nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIA (NMMHCIIA) encoded by MYH9 is associated with autosomal dominantly inherited diseases called MYH9 disorders. MYH9 disorders are characterized by macrothrombocytopenia and very characteristic inclusion bodies in granulocytes. MYH9 disorders frequently cause nephritis, sensorineural hearing disability and cataracts. One of the most common and deleterious mutations causing these disorders is the R702C missense mutation.
We generated knock-in mice expressing the Myh9 R702C mutation. R702C knock-in hetero mice (R702C+/− mice) showed macrothrombocytopenia. We studied megakaryopoiesis of cultured fetal liver cells of R702C+/− mice and found that proplatelet formation was impaired: the number of proplatelet tips was decreased, proplatelet size was increased, and proplatelet shafts were short and enlarged. Although granulocyte inclusion bodies were not visible by May–Grünwald Giemsa staining, immunofluorescence analysis indicated that NMMHCIIA proteins aggregated and accumulated in the granulocyte cytoplasm.
In other organs, R702C+/− mice displayed albuminuria which increased with age. Renal pathology examination revealed glomerulosclerosis. Sensory hearing loss was indicated by lowered auditory brainstem response.
These findings indicate that Myh9 R702C knock-in mice mirror features of human MYH9 disorders arising from the R702C mutation.
Fibrosis is a complex and multifactorial process, affecting the structure and compromising the function of several organs. Among those, renal fibrosis is an important pathological change, eventually leading to renal failure. Proteomic analysis of the renal parenchyma in the well-established rat model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO model) suggested that transgelin was up-regulated during the development of fibrosis. Transgelin up-regulation was confirmed both at the protein and at the mRNA level. It was observed that at early stages of fibrosis transgelin was mainly expressed in the interstitial compartment and, more specifically, in cells surrounding the glomeruli. Subsequently, it was confirmed that transgelin expressing cells were activated fibroblasts, based on their extensive co-expression of α-SMA and their complete lack of co-distribution with markers of other cell types (endothelial, epithelial and cells of the immune system). These periglomerular fibroblasts exhibited staining for transgelin mainly cytoplasmic but occasionally nuclear as well. In addition, transgelin expression in periglomerular fibroblasts was absent in renal fibrosis developed in a hypertensive model, compared to the UUO model. Promoter analysis indicated that there are several conserved motifs for transcription factor binding. Among those, Kruppel-like factor 6 was found to be up-regulated in transgelin positive periglomerular activated fibroblasts, suggesting a possible involvement in the mechanism of transgelin up-regulation. These data strongly suggest that transgelin is up-regulated in the obstructive nephropathy and could be used as a novel marker for renal fibrosis in the future.
Multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have become a promising therapeutic approach in many clinical conditions. The hypothesis that MSCs can provide a potential therapy for human anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) glomerulonephritis (GN) was tested.
Nephrotoxic serum nephritis was induced in Wistar-Kyoto rats on day 0. Groups of animals were given either human MSCs (hMSCs, 3×106) or vehicle by intravenous injection on day 4; all rats were sacrificed at either day 7 or day 13.
Fluorescently labeled hMSCs were localized in glomeruli and tubulointerstitium 5 h after hMSC administration and persisted until 48 h, but hMSCs were barely detectable after 7 days. hMSC-treated rats had decreased kidney weight, proteinuria, and glomerular tuft area at each time point. The serum creatinine level and degree of glomerular crescent formation were decreased by hMSC treatment on day 13. ED1-positive macrophages, CD8-positive cells, and TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells in glomeruli were reduced by hMSC treatment on day 7, and this trend in apoptotic cells persisted to day 13. Renal cortical mRNA for TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-17, and the serum IL-17A level were decreased, whereas renal cortical mRNA for IL-4 and Foxp3 and the serum IL-10 level were increased in the MSC-treated group on day 7. Collagen types I and III and TGF-β mRNA were decreased by hMSC treatment on day 13.
The present results demonstrated that anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects were involved in the mechanism of attenuating established experimental anti-GBM GN by hMSCs. These results suggest that hMSCs are a promising therapeutic candidate for the treatment of anti-GBM GN.
Diabetes can exacerbate seizures and worsen seizure-related brain damage. In the present study, we aimed to determine whether the standard antiepileptic drug pregabalin (PGB) protects against pilocarpine-induced seizures and excitotoxicity in diabetes. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into either a streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes group or a normal saline (NS) group. Both groups were further divided into subgroups that were treated intravenously with either PGB (15 mg/kg) or a vehicle; all groups were treated with subcutaneous pilocarpine (60 mg/kg) to induce seizures. To evaluate spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS), PGB-pretreated rats were fed rat chow containing oral PGB (450 mg) for 28 consecutive days; vehicle-pretreated rats were fed regular chow. SRS frequency was monitored for 2 weeks from post-status epilepticus day 15. We evaluated both acute neuronal loss and chronic mossy fiber sprouting in the CA3 area. In addition, we performed patch clamp recordings to study evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) in hippocampal CA1 neurons for both vehicle-treated rats with SRS. Finally, we used an RNA interference knockdown method for Kir6.2 in a hippocampal cell line to evaluate PGB's effects in the presence of high-dose ATP. We found that compared to vehicle-treated rats, PGB-treated rats showed less severe acute seizure activity, reduced acute neuronal loss, and chronic mossy fiber sprouting. In the vehicle-treated STZ rats, eEPSC amplitude was significantly lower after PGB administration, but glibenclamide reversed this effect. The RNA interference study confirmed that PGB could counteract the ATP-sensitive potassium channel (KATP)-closing effect of high-dose ATP. By opening KATP, PGB protects against neuronal excitotoxicity, and is therefore a potential antiepileptogenic in diabetes. These findings might help develop a clinical algorithm for treating patients with epilepsy and comorbid metabolic disorders.
Interstitial fibrosis is regarded as the main pathway for the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and is often associated with severe renal dysfunction. Stem cell-based therapies may provide alternative approaches for the treatment of CKD. Human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (hAFSCs) are a novel stem cell population, which exhibit both embryonic and mesenchymal stem cell characteristics. Herein, the present study investigated whether the transplantation of hAFSCs into renal tissues could improve renal interstitial fibrosis in a murine model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO). We showed that hAFSCs provided a protective effect and alleviated interstitial fibrosis as reflected by an increase in microvascular density; additionally, hAFSCs treatment beneficially modulated protein levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). Therefore, we hypothesize that hAFSCs could represent an alternative, readily available source of stem cells that can be applied for the treatment of renal interstitial fibrosis.
Fabry’s disease results from an inborn error of glycosphingolipid metabolism that is due to deficiency of the lysosomal hydrolase α-galactosidase A. This X-linked defect results in the accumulation of enzyme substrates with terminally α-glycosidically bound galactose, mainly the neutral glycosphingolipid Globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) in various tissues, including the kidneys. Although end-stage renal disease is one of the most common causes of death in hemizygous males with Fabry’s disease, the pathophysiology leading to proteinuria, hematuria, hypertension, and kidney failure is not well understood. Histological studies suggest that the accumulation of Gb3 in podocytes plays an important role in the pathogenesis of glomerular damage. However, due to the lack of appropriate animal or cellular models, podocyte damage in Fabry’s disease could not be directly studied yet. As murine models are insufficient, a human model is needed. Here, we developed a human podocyte model of Fabry’s disease by combining RNA interference technology with lentiviral transduction of human podocytes. Knockdown of α-galactosidase A expression resulted in diminished enzymatic activity and slowly progressive accumulation of intracellular Gb3. Interestingly, these changes were accompanied by an increase in autophagosomes as indicated by an increased abundance of LC3-II and a loss of mTOR kinase activity, a negative regulator of the autophagic machinery. These data suggest that dysregulated autophagy in α-galactosidase A-deficient podocytes may be the result of deficient mTOR kinase activity. This finding links the lysosomal enzymatic defect in Fabry’s disease to deregulated autophagy pathways and provides a promising new direction for further studies on the pathomechanism of glomerular injury in Fabry patients.
Laboratory research and previous study suggest that aliskiren, a direct renin inhibitor, has anti-proteinuric effects. We conducted a randomized crossover study to evaluate the anti-proteinuric effect of aliskiren in patients with immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy.
We studied 22 patients with biopsy-proven IgA nephropathy and persistent proteinuria despite angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB). Patients were randomized to either oral aliskiren 300 mg/day or placebo for 16 weeks and then crossed over to the other treatment arm after a washout period. Proteinuria, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), blood pressure, and serum potassium were monitored.
After aliskiren treatment, there was a significant reduction in proteinuria in 4 weeks (1.76±0.95 to 1.03±0.69 g:g-Cr, p<0.0001), which remained at a low level throughout the treatment period. There was a significant difference in proteinuria between the aliskiren and placebo groups from 4 to 16 weeks after treatment (p<0.01 for all comparisons). After aliskiren treatment, there were modest but statistically significant reductions in eGFR (57.2±29.1 to 54.8±29.3 ml/min/1.73 m2, p = 0.013) and diastolic blood pressure (72.6±12.3 to 66.2±11.2 mmHg, p<0.0001). None of the patient developed severe hyperkalemia (serum potassium ≥6.0 mmol/l) during the study period.
Aliskiren has anti-proteinuric effect in patients with IgA nephropathy and persistent proteinuria despite ACE inhibitor or ARB. Further studies are needed to confirm the renal protecting effect of direct renin inhibition in chronic proteinuric kidney diseases.
Several studies have shown that activation of the renin-angiotensin system may lead to hypertension, a major risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The existing hypertension-induced CDK mouse models are quite fast and consequently away from the human pathology. Thus, there is an urgent need for a mouse model that can be used to delineate the pathogenic process leading to progressive renal disease. The objective of this study was dual: to investigate whether mice overexpressing renin could mimic the kinetics and the physiopathological characteristics of hypertension-induced renal disease and to identify cellular and/or molecular events characterizing the different steps of the progression of CKD.
We used a novel transgenic strain, the RenTg mice harboring a genetically clamped renin transgene. At 3 months, heterozygous mice are hypertensive and slightly albuminuric. The expression of adhesion markers such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 are increased in the renal vasculature indicating initiation of endothelial dysfunction. At 5 months, perivascular and periglomerular infiltrations of macrophages are observed. These early renal vascular events are followed at 8 months by leukocyte invasion, decreased expression of nephrin, increased expression of KIM-1, a typical protein of tubular cell stress, and of several pro-fibrotic agents of the TGFβ family. At 12 months, mice display characteristic structural alterations of hypertensive renal disease such as glomerular ischemia, glomerulo- and nephroangio-sclerosis, mesangial expansion and tubular dilation.
The RenTg strain develops CKD progressively. In this model, endothelial dysfunction is an early event preceding the structural and fibrotic alterations which ultimately lead to the development of CKD. This model can provide new insights into the mechanisms of chronic renal failure and help to identify new targets for arresting and/or reversing the development of the disease.
Interleukin 18 (IL-18) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that mediates fibrotic renal injury during obstruction. Macrophages are a well-known source of IL-18; however, renal tubular epithelial cells are also a potential source of this cytokine. We hypothesized that IL-18 is predominantly a renal tubular cell product and is produced during renal obstruction independent of macrophage infiltration.
To study this, male C57BL6 mice were subjected to unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) vs. sham operation in the presence or absence of macrophage depletion (liposomal clodronate (1 ml/100 g body weight i.v.)). The animals were sacrificed 1 week after surgery and renal cortical tissue harvested. Tissue levels of active IL-18 (ELISA), IL-18 receptor mRNA expression (real time PCR), and active caspase-1 expression (western blot) were measured. The cellular localization of IL-18 and IL-18R was assessed using dual labeling immunofluorescent staining (IFS).
Immunohistochemical staining of renal tissue sections confirmed macrophage depletion by liposomal clodronate. IL-18 production, IL-18R expression, and active caspase 1 expression were elevated in response to renal obstruction and did not decline to a significant degree in the presence of macrophage depletion. Obstruction-induced IL-18 and IL-18R production localized predominantly to tubular epithelial cells (TEC) during obstruction despite macrophage depletion.
These results demonstrate that renal tubular epithelial cells are the primary source of IL-18 production during obstructive injury, and that tubular cell production of IL-18 occurs independent of macrophage infiltration.
Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) has been implicated in the development of hyperhomocysteinemia (hHcys)-induced glomerular oxidative stress and injury. However, it remains unknown whether genetically engineering of ASM gene produces beneficial or detrimental action on hHcys-induced glomerular injury. The present study generated and characterized the mice lacking cystathionine β-synthase (Cbs) and Asm mouse gene by cross breeding Cbs+/− and Asm+/− mice. Given that the homozygotes of Cbs−/−/Asm−/− mice could not survive for 3 weeks. Cbs+/−/Asm+/+, Cbs+/−/Asm+/− and Cbs+/−/Asm−/− as well as their Cbs wild type littermates were used to study the role of Asm−/− under a background of Cbs+/− with hHcys. HPLC analysis revealed that plasma Hcys level was significantly elevated in Cbs heterozygous (Cbs+/−) mice with different copies of Asm gene compared to Cbs+/+ mice with different Asm gene copies. Cbs+/−/Asm+/+ mice had significantly increased renal Asm activity, ceramide production and O2.− level compared to Cbs+/+/Asm+/+, while Cbs+/−/Asm−/− mice showed significantly reduced renal Asm activity, ceramide production and O2.− level due to increased plasma Hcys levels. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that colocalization of podocin with ceramide was much lower in Cbs+/−/Asm−/− mice compared to Cbs+/−/Asm+/+ mice, which was accompanied by a reduced glomerular damage index, albuminuria and proteinuria in Cbs+/−/Asm−/− mice. Immunofluorescent analyses of the podocin, nephrin and desmin expression also illustrated less podocyte damages in the glomeruli from Cbs+/−/Asm−/− mice compared to Cbs+/−/Asm+/+ mice. In in vitro studies of podocytes, hHcys-enhanced O2.− production, desmin expression, and ceramide production as well as decreases in VEGF level and podocin expression in podocytes were substantially attenuated by prior treatment with amitriptyline, an Asm inhibitor. In conclusion, Asm gene knockout or corresponding enzyme inhibition protects the podocytes and glomeruli from hHcys-induced oxidative stress and injury.
Podocyte or endothelial cell VEGF-A knockout causes thrombotic microangiopathy in adult mice. To study the mechanism involved in acute and local injury caused by low podocyte VEGF-A we developed an inducible, podocyte-specific VEGF-A knockdown mouse, and we generated an immortalized podocyte cell line (VEGFKD) that downregulates VEGF-A upon doxycycline exposure. Tet-O-siVEGF:podocin-rtTA mice express VEGF shRNA in podocytes in a doxycycline-regulated manner, decreasing VEGF-A mRNA and VEGF-A protein levels in isolated glomeruli to ∼20% of non-induced controls and urine VEGF-A to ∼30% of control values a week after doxycycline induction. Induced tet-O-siVEGF:podocin-rtTA mice developed acute renal failure and proteinuria, associated with mesangiolysis and microaneurisms. Glomerular ultrastructure revealed endothelial cell swelling, GBM lamination and podocyte effacement. VEGF knockdown decreased podocyte fibronectin and glomerular endothelial alphaVbeta3 integrin in vivo. VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2) interacts with beta3 integrin and neuropilin-1 in the kidney in vivo and in VEGFKD podocytes. Podocyte VEGF knockdown disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activation in glomeruli, detected by WOW1-Fab. VEGF silencing in cultured VEGFKD podocytes downregulates fibronectin and disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activation cell-autonomously. Collectively, these studies indicate that podocyte VEGF-A regulates alphaVbeta3 integrin signaling in the glomerulus, and that podocyte VEGF knockdown disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activity via decreased VEGFR2 signaling, thereby damaging the three layers of the glomerular filtration barrier, causing proteinuria and acute renal failure.
Recent studies have described that the Notch signaling pathway is activated in a wide range of renal diseases. Angiotensin II (AngII) plays a key role in the progression of kidney diseases. AngII contributes to renal fibrosis by upregulation of profibrotic factors, induction of epithelial mesenchymal transition and accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins. In cultured human tubular epithelial cells the Notch activation by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) has been involved in epithelial mesenchymal transition. AngII mimics many profibrotic actions of TGF-β1. For these reasons, our aim was to investigate whether AngII could regulate the Notch/Jagged system in the kidney, and its potential role in AngII-induced responses. In cultured human tubular epithelial cells, TGF-β1, but not AngII, increased the Notch pathway-related gene expression, Jagged-1 synthesis, and caused nuclear translocation of the activated Notch. In podocytes and renal fibroblasts, AngII did not modulate the Notch pathway. In tubular epithelial cells, pharmacological Notch inhibition did not modify AngII-induced changes in epithelial mesenchymal markers, profibrotic factors and extracellular matrix proteins. Systemic infusion of AngII into rats for 2 weeks caused tubulointerstitial fibrosis, but did not upregulate renal expression of activated Notch-1 or Jagged-1, as observed in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Moreover, the Notch/Jagged system was not modulated by AngII type I receptor blockade in the model of unilateral ureteral obstruction in mice. These data clearly indicate that AngII does not regulate the Notch/Jagged signaling system in the kidney, in vivo and in vitro. Our findings showing that the Notch pathway is not involved in AngII-induced fibrosis could provide important information to understand the complex role of Notch system in the regulation of renal regeneration vs damage progression.
Conditional gene targeting in mice has provided great insight into the role of gene function in kidney development and disease. Although a number of Cre-driver mouse strains already exist for the kidney, development of additional strains with unique expression patterns is needed. Here we report the generation and validation of a Tcf21/Pod1-Cre driver strain that expresses Cre recombinase throughout the condensing and stromal mesenchyme of developing kidneys and in their derivatives including epithelial components of the nephron and interstitial cells. To test the efficiency of this line, we crossed it to mice transgenic for either loss or gain of function β-catenin conditional alleles. Mice with deletion of β-catenin from Tcf21-expressing cells are born with hypoplastic kidneys, hydroureters and hydronephrosis. By contrast, Tcf21-Cre driven gain of function for β-catenin in mice results in fused midline kidneys and hypoplastic kidneys. Finally, we report the first renal mesenchymal deletion of Patched1 (Ptch1), the receptor for sonic hedgehog (Shh), which results in renal cysts demonstrating a functional role of Shh signaling pathway in renal cystogensis. In summary, we report the generation and validation of a new Cre driver strain that provides robust excision in metanephric mesenchyme.
BAMBI is a type I TGFβ receptor antagonist, whose in vivo function remains unclear, as BAMBI−/− mice lack an obvious phenotype.
Identifying BAMBI’s functions requires identification of cell-specific expression of BAMBI. By immunohistology we found BAMBI expression restricted to endothelial cells and by electron microscopy BAMBI−/− mice showed prominent and swollen endothelial cells in myocardial and glomerular capillaries. In endothelial cells over-expression of BAMBI reduced, whereas knock-down enhanced capillary growth and migration in response to TGFβ. In vivo angiogenesis was enhanced in matrigel implants and in glomerular hypertrophy after unilateral nephrectomy in BAMBI−/− compared to BAMBI+/+ mice consistent with an endothelial phenotype for BAMBI−/− mice. BAMBI’s mechanism of action in endothelial cells was examined by canonical and alternative TGFβ signaling in HUVEC with over-expression or knock-down of BAMBI. BAMBI knockdown enhanced basal and TGFβ stimulated SMAD1/5 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, while over-expression prevented both.
Thus we provide a first description of a vascular phenotype for BAMBI−/− mice, and provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that BAMBI contributes to endothelial and vascular homeostasis. Further, we demonstrate that in endothelial cells BAMBI interferes with alternative TGFβ signaling, most likely through the ALK 1 receptor, which may explain the phenotype observed in BAMBI−/− mice. This newly described role for BAMBI in regulating endothelial function has potential implications for understanding and treating vascular disease and tumor neo-angiogenesis.
The vasculature of the kidney is a heterogeneous structure, whose functional integrity is essential for the regulation of renal function. Owing to the importance of the endothelium in vascular biology, chronic endothelial alterations are therefore susceptible to impair multiple aspects of renal physiology and, in turn, to contribute to renal fibrosis. Although systemic endothelial dysfunction is undoubtedly associated with chronic kidney disease, the role of the renal endothelium in the initiation and the progression of renal fibrosis remains largely elusive. In this article, we critically review recent evidence supporting direct and indirect contributions of renal endothelial alterations to fibrosis in the kidney. Specifically, the potential implications of renal endothelial dysfunction and endothelial paucity in parenchymal hypoxia, in the regulation of local inflammation, and in the generation of renal mesenchymal cells are reviewed. We thereafter discuss therapeutic perspectives targeting renal endothelial alterations during the initiation and the progression of renal fibrogenesis.
Arterial hypertension (AH) induces cardiac hypertrophy and reactivation of “fetal” gene expression. In rodent heart, alpha-Myosin Heavy Chain (MyHC) and its micro-RNA miR-208a regulate the expression of beta-MyHC and of its intronic miR-208b. However, the role of aldosterone in these processes remains unclear.
RT-PCR and western-blot were used to investigate the genes modulated by arterial hypertension and cardiac hyperaldosteronism. We developed a model of double-transgenic mice (AS-Ren) with cardiac hyperaldosteronism (AS mice) and systemic hypertension (Ren). AS-Ren mice had increased (x2) angiotensin II in plasma and increased (x2) aldosterone in heart. Ren and AS-Ren mice had a robust and similar hypertension (+70%) versus their controls. Anatomical data and echocardiography showed a worsening of cardiac hypertrophy (+41%) in AS-Ren mice (P<0.05 vs Ren). The increase of ANP (x 2.5; P<0.01) mRNA observed in Ren mice was blunted in AS-Ren mice. This non-induction of antitrophic natriuretic peptides may be involved in the higher trophic cardiac response in AS-Ren mice, as indicated by the markedly reduced cardiac hypertrophy in ANP-infused AS-Ren mice for one month. Besides, the AH-induced increase of ßMyHC and its intronic miRNA-208b was prevented in AS-Ren. The inhibition of miR 208a (−75%, p<0.001) in AS-Ren mice compared to AS was associated with increased Sox 6 mRNA (x 1.34; p<0.05), an inhibitor of ßMyHC transcription. Eplerenone prevented all aldosterone-dependent effects.
Our results indicate that increased aldosterone in heart inhibits the induction of atrial natriuretic peptide expression, via the mineralocorticoid receptor. This worsens cardiac hypertrophy without changing blood pressure. Moreover, this work reveals an original aldosterone-dependent inhibition of miR-208a in hypertension, resulting in the inhibition of β-myosin heavy chain expression through the induction of its transcriptional repressor Sox6. Thus, aldosterone inhibits the fetal program and increases cardiac hypertrophy in hypertensive mice.
IQGAP1 is a scaffold protein that interacts with proteins of the cytoskeleton and the intercellular adhesion complex. In podocytes, IQGAP1 is associated with nephrin in the glomerular slit diaphragm (SD) complex, but its role remains ill-defined. In this work, we investigated the interaction of IQGAP1 with the cytoskeleton and SD proteins in podocytes in culture, and its role in podocyte migration and permeability. Expression, localization, and interactions between IQGAP1 and SD or cytoskeletal proteins were determined in cultured human podocytes by Western blot (WB), immunocytolocalization (IC), immunoprecipitation (IP), and In situ Proximity Ligation assay (IsPL). Involvement of IQGAP1 in migration and permeability was also assessed. IQGAP1 expression in normal kidney biopsies was studied by immunohistochemistry. IQGAP1 expression by podocytes increased during their in vitro differentiation. IC, IP, and IsPL experiments showed colocalizations and/or interactions between IQGAP1 and SD proteins (nephrin, MAGI-1, CD2AP, NCK 1/2, podocin), podocalyxin, and cytoskeletal proteins (α-actinin-4). IQGAP1 silencing decreased podocyte migration and increased the permeability of a podocyte layer. Immunohistochemistry on normal human kidney confirmed IQGAP1 expression in podocytes and distal tubular epithelial cells and also showed an expression in glomerular parietal epithelial cells. In summary, our results suggest that IQGAP1, through its interaction with components of SD and cytoskeletal proteins, is involved in podocyte barrier properties.
FGF1 is a signal peptide-less nonclassically released growth factor that is involved in angiogenesis, tissue repair, inflammation, and carcinogenesis. The effects of nonclassical FGF export in vivo are not sufficiently studied. We produced transgenic mice expressing FGF1 in endothelial cells (EC), which allowed the detection of FGF1 export to the vasculature, and studied the efficiency of postischemic kidney repair in these animals. Although FGF1 transgenic mice had a normal phenotype with unperturbed kidney structure, they showed a severely inhibited kidney repair after unilateral ischemia/reperfusion. This was manifested by a strong decrease of postischemic kidney size and weight, whereas the undamaged contralateral kidney exhibited an enhanced compensatory size increase. In addition, the postischemic kidneys of transgenic mice were characterized by hyperplasia of interstitial cells, paucity of epithelial tubular structures, increase of the areas occupied by connective tissue, and neutrophil and macrophage infiltration. The continuous treatment of transgenic mice with the cell membrane stabilizer, taurine, inhibited nonclassical FGF1 export and significantly rescued postischemic kidney repair. It was also found that similar to EC, the transgenic expression of FGF1 in monocytes and macrophages suppresses kidney repair. We suggest that nonclassical export may be used as a target for the treatment of pathologies involving signal peptide-less FGFs.
Akita mice are a genetic model of type 1 diabetes. In the present studies, we investigated the phenotype of Akita mice on the FVB/NJ background and examined urinary nephrin excretion as a marker of kidney injury. Male Akita mice were compared with non-diabetic controls for functional and structural characteristics of renal and cardiac disease. Podocyte number and apoptosis as well as urinary nephrin excretion were determined in both groups. Male FVB/NJ Akita mice developed sustained hyperglycemia and albuminuria by 4 and 8 weeks of age, respectively. These abnormalities were accompanied by a significant increase in systolic blood pressure in 10-week old Akita mice, which was associated with functional, structural and molecular characteristics of cardiac hypertrophy. By 20 weeks of age, Akita mice developed a 10-fold increase in albuminuria, renal and glomerular hypertrophy and a decrease in the number of podocytes. Mild-to-moderate glomerular mesangial expansion was observed in Akita mice at 30 weeks of age. In 4-week old Akita mice, the onset of hyperglycemia was accompanied by increased podocyte apoptosis and enhanced excretion of nephrin in urine before the development of albuminuria. Urinary nephrin excretion was also significantly increased in albuminuric Akita mice at 16 and 20 weeks of age and correlated with the albumin excretion rate. These data suggest that: 1. FVB/NJ Akita mice have phenotypic characteristics that may be useful for studying the mechanisms of kidney and cardiac injury in diabetes, and 2. Enhanced urinary nephrin excretion is associated with kidney injury in FVB/NJ Akita mice and is detectable early in the disease process.
The immunosuppressive mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors are widely used in solid organ transplantation, but their effect on kidney disease progression is controversial. mTOR has emerged as one of the main pathways regulating cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, migration, and survival.
The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of delayed inhibition of mTOR pathway with low dose of everolimus on progression of renal disease and TGFβ expression in the 5/6 nephrectomy model in Wistar rats.
This study evaluated the effects of everolimus (0.3 mg/k/day) introduced 15 days after surgical procedure on renal function, proteinuria, renal histology and mechanisms of fibrosis and proliferation.
Everolimus treated group (EveG) showed significantly less proteinuria and albuminuria, less glomerular and tubulointerstitial damage and fibrosis, fibroblast activation cell proliferation, when compared with control group (CG), even though the EveG remained with high blood pressure. Treatment with everolimus also diminished glomerular hypertrophy.
Everolimus effectively inhibited the increase of mTOR developed in 5/6 nephrectomy animals, without changes in AKT mRNA or protein abundance, but with an increase in the pAKT/AKT ratio. Associated with this inhibition, everolimus blunted the increased expression of TGFβ observed in the remnant kidney model.
Delayed mTOR inhibition with low dose of everolimus significantly prevented progressive renal damage and protected the remnant kidney. mTOR and TGFβ mRNA reduction can partially explain this anti fibrotic effect. mTOR can be a new target to attenuate the progression of chronic kidney disease even in those nephropathies of non-immunologic origin.
Progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major health issue due to persistent accumulation of extracellular matrix in the injured kidney. However, our current understanding of fibrosis is limited, therapeutic options are lacking, and progressive degradation of renal function prevails in CKD patients. Uncovering novel therapeutic targets is therefore necessary.
We have previously demonstrated reversal of renal fibrosis with losartan in experimental hypertensive nephropathy. Reversal was achieved provided that the drug was administered before late stages of nephropathy, thereby determining a non-return point of CKD progression. In the present study, to identify factors critically involved in the progression of renal fibrosis, we introduced losartan at the non-return point in L-NAME treated Sprague Dawley rats. Our results showed either reversal or progression of renal disease with losartan, defining 2 groups according to the opposite evolution of renal function. We took advantage of these experimental conditions to perform a transcriptomic screening to identify novel factors potentially implicated in the mechanisms of CKD progression. A secondary analysis of selected markers was thereafter performed. Among the targets identified, periostin, an extracellular matrix protein, presented a significant 3.3-fold higher mRNA expression in progression compared to reversal group. Furthermore, independent of blood pressure, periostin was strongly correlated with plasma creatinine, proteinuria and renal blood flow, hallmarks of hypertensive renal disease severity. Periostin staining was predominant in the injured regions, both in experimental hypertensive and human nephropathy.
These results identify periostin as a previously unrecognized marker associated with disease progression and regression in hypertensive nephropathy and suggest measuring periostin may be a sensitive tool to evaluate severity, progression and response to therapy in human kidney disease associated to hypertension.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key regulator of angiogenesis – the growth of new microvessels from existing microvasculature. Angiogenesis is a complex process involving numerous molecular species, and to better understand it, a systems biology approach is necessary. In vivo preclinical experiments in the area of angiogenesis are typically performed in mouse models; this includes drug development targeting VEGF. Thus, to quantitatively interpret such experimental results, a computational model of VEGF distribution in the mouse can be beneficial. In this paper, we present an in silico model of VEGF distribution in mice, determine model parameters from existing experimental data, conduct sensitivity analysis, and test the validity of the model.
The multiscale model is comprised of two compartments: blood and tissue. The model accounts for interactions between two major VEGF isoforms (VEGF120 and VEGF164) and their endothelial cell receptors VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and co-receptor neuropilin-1. Neuropilin-1 is also expressed on the surface of parenchymal cells. The model includes transcapillary macromolecular permeability, lymphatic transport, and macromolecular plasma clearance. Simulations predict that the concentration of unbound VEGF in the tissue is approximately 50-fold greater than in the blood. These concentrations are highly dependent on the VEGF secretion rate. Parameter estimation was performed to fit the simulation results to available experimental data, and permitted the estimation of VEGF secretion rate in healthy tissue, which is difficult to measure experimentally. The model can provide quantitative interpretation of preclinical animal data and may be used in conjunction with experimental studies in the development of pro- and anti-angiogenic agents. The model approximates the normal tissue as skeletal muscle and includes endothelial cells to represent the vasculature. As the VEGF system becomes better characterized in other tissues and cell types, the model can be expanded to include additional compartments and vascular elements.
IL-1β and IL-18 are proinflammatory cytokines that contribute to renal immune complex disease, but whether IL-1β and IL-18 are mediators of intrinsic glomerular inflammation is unknown. In contrast to other cytokines the secretion of IL-1β and IL-18 requires a second stimulus that activates the inflammasome-ASC-caspase-1 pathway to cleave pro-IL-1β and -IL-18 into their mature and secretable forms. As the NLRP3 inflammasome and caspase-1 were shown to contribute to postischemic and postobstructive tubulointerstitial inflammation, we hypothesized a similar role for NLRP3, ASC, and caspase-1 in glomerular immunopathology. This concept was supported by the finding that lack of IL-1R1 reduced antiserum-induced focal segmental necrosis, crescent formation, and tubular atrophy when compared to wildtype mice. Lack of IL-18 reduced tubular atrophy only. However, NLRP3-, ASC- or caspase-1-deficiency had no significant effect on renal histopathology or proteinuria of serum nephritis. In vitro studies with mouse glomeruli or mesangial cells, glomerular endothelial cells, and podocytes did not reveal any pro-IL-1β induction upon LPS stimulation and no caspase-1 activation after an additional exposure to the NLRP3 agonist ATP. Only renal dendritic cells, which reside mainly in the tubulointerstitium, expressed pro-IL-1β and were able to activate the NLRP3-caspase-1 axis and secrete mature IL-1β. Together, the NLRP3-ASC-caspase-1 axis does not contribute to intrinsic glomerular inflammation via glomerular parenchymal cells as these cannot produce IL-1β during sterile inflammation.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are a nuclear receptor family of ligand-inducible transcription factors, which have three different isoforms: PPARα, δ and γ. It has been demonstrated that PPARα and γ agonists have renoprotective effects in proteinuric kidney diseases; however, the role of PPARδ agonists in kidney diseases remains unclear. Thus, we examined the renoprotective effect of GW501516, a PPARδ agonist, in a protein-overload mouse nephropathy model and identified its molecular mechanism. Mice fed with a control diet or GW501516-containing diet were intraperitoneally injected with free fatty acid (FFA)-bound albumin or PBS(−). In the control group, protein overload caused tubular damages, macrophage infiltration and increased mRNA expression of MCP-1 and TNFα. These effects were prevented by GW501516 treatment. In proteinuric kidney diseases, excess exposure of proximal tubular cells to albumin, FFA bound to albumin or cytokines such as TNFα is detrimental. In vitro studies using cultured proximal tubular cells showed that GW501516 attenuated both TNFα- and FFA (palmitate)-induced, but not albumin-induced, MCP-1 expression via direct inhibition of the TGF-β activated kinase 1 (TAK1)-NFκB pathway, a common downstream signaling pathway to TNFα receptor and toll-like receptor-4. In conclusion, we demonstrate that GW501516 has an anti-inflammatory effect in renal tubular cells and may serve as a therapeutic candidate to attenuate tubulointerstitial lesions in proteinuric kidney diseases.
Laminin α5 is required for kidney glomerular basement membrane (GBM) assembly, and mice with targeted deletions of the Lama5 gene fail to form glomeruli. As a tool to begin to understand factors regulating the expression of the LAMA5 gene, we generated transgenic mice carrying the human LAMA5 locus in a bacterial artificial chromosome. These mice deposited human laminin α5 protein into basement membranes in heart, liver, spleen and kidney. Here, we characterized two lines of transgenics; Line 13 expressed ∼6 times more LAMA5 than Line 25. Mice from both lines were healthy, and kidney function and morphology were normal. Examination of developing glomeruli from fetal LAMA5 transgenics showed that the human transgene was expressed at the correct stage of glomerular development, and deposited into the nascent GBM simultaneously with mouse laminin α5. Expression of human LAMA5 did not affect the timing of the mouse laminin α1–α5 isoform switch, or that for mouse laminin β1–β2. Immunoelectron microscopy showed that human laminin α5 originated in both glomerular endothelial cells and podocytes, known to be origins for mouse laminin α5 normally. Notably, in neonatal transgenics expressing the highest levels of human LAMA5, there was a striking reduction of mouse laminin α5 protein in kidney basement membranes compared to wildtype, and significantly lower levels of mouse Lama5 mRNA. This suggests the presence in kidney of a laminin expression monitor, which may be important for regulating the overall production of basement membrane protein.