The tissue-protective effects of erythropoietin (EPO) have been extensively investigated, and EPO administration can raise the hemoglobin (Hb) concentration. Recently, we reported that carbamylated erythropoietin (CEPO) protected kidneys from ischemia-reperfusion injury as well as EPO.
To investigate the clinical applications of CEPO, we next evaluated the long-term therapeutic effect of CEPO using a tubulointerstitial model rat. We randomized remnant kidney model rats to receive saline, EPO, or CEPO for 8 weeks.
CEPO- and EPO-treated rats had improved serum creatinine levels compared with saline-treated remnant kidney model rats, although the Hb level was significantly increased in EPO-treated rats. Two-photon microscopy revealed that EPO/CEPO significantly ameliorated tubular epithelial cell damage assessed by endocytosis. In addition, CEPO or EPO protected endothelial cells with a sustained blood flow rate. EPO or CEPO suppressed the number of TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells with weak αSMA staining.
Furthermore, PCR analysis demonstrated that TGF-β and type I collagen expression was attenuated in EPO- or CEPO-treated rats, accompanied by a significant decrease in interstitial fibrosis.
We established a long-term therapeutic approach to protect tubulointerstitial injury with CEPO, and thus, the therapeutic value of this approach warrants further attention and preclinical studies.