Podocytes play a critical role in the pathogenesis of glomerulosclerosis. Increasing evidence suggests that aldosterone (ALD) is involved in the initiation and progression of glomerular damage. It is, however, unknown whether there is a direct injurious effect of ALD on podocytes. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated the effect of ALD on podocyte apoptosis and studied the role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PI3-K/Akt) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) signaling pathways in this process.
Podocytes were incubated in media containing either buffer or increasing concentrations of ALD (10–9∼10–5M) for variable time periods. The cells were also treated with either wortmannin (inhibitor of PI3-K, 100 nM), SB202190 (SB20, inhibitor of p38MAPK, 10 μM) or buffer. All treatments were performed with or without ALD (10–7M) for 24 h. At the end of the incubation period, apoptosis was evaluated by cell nucleus staining and flow cytometric analyses. Activation of PI3-K/Akt and p38MAPK phosphorylation of cultured rat podocytes was evaluated by performing Akt kinase assay and Western blot, respectively.
Apoptosis of cultured rat podocytes was induced by ALD in a dose- and time-dependent manner. ALD inhibited the activity of PI3-K/Akt and increased the activation of p38MAPK. PI3-K/Akt activity was further inhibited by the addition of wortmannin to the cells in the presence of ALD. This was accompanied by a significant increase in apoptosis. ALD-induced p38MAPK phosphorylation and apoptosis were inhibited when the cells were pretreated with SB20. Furthermore, treatment with spironolactone not only attenuated the proapoptotic effect of ALD, but also significantly reversed its effects on PI3-K/Akt and p38MAPK signaling pathways.
ALD induces apoptosis in rat podocytes through inhibition of PI3-K/Akt and stimulation of p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Spironolactone attenuates ALD-induced podocyte apoptosis, thereby positioning this compound as a potential promising target of intervention in human renal damage.