Gremlin is a developmental gene upregulated in human chronic kidney disease and in renal cells in response to transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?). Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one process involved in renal fibrosis. In tubular epithelial cells we have recently described that Gremlin induces EMT and acts as a downstream TGF-? mediator. Our aim was to investigate whether Gremlin participates in EMT by the regulation of the Smad pathway. Stimulation of human tubular epithelial cells (HK2) with Gremlin caused an early activation of the Smad signaling pathway (Smad 2/3 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation, and Smad-dependent gene transcription). The blockade of TGF-?, by a neutralizing antibody against active TGF-?, did not modify Gremlin-induced early Smad activation. These data show that Gremlin directly, by a TGF-? independent process, activates the Smad pathway. In tubular epithelial cells long-term incubation with Gremlin increased TGF-? production and caused a sustained Smad activation and a phenotype conversion into myofibroblasts-like cells. Smad 7 overexpression, which blocks Smad 2/3 activation, diminished EMT changes observed in Gremlin-transfected tubuloepithelial cells. TGF-? neutralization also diminished Gremlin-induced EMT changes. In conclusion, we propose that Gremlin could participate in renal fibrosis by inducing EMT in tubular epithelial cells through activation of Smad pathway and induction of TGF-?.
The Notch signalling pathway is activated in a wide variety of human renal diseases. We have recently demonstrated that the activation of this pathway is not involved in experimental renal fibrosis induced by angiotensin II or hypertension.
A growing number of patients are recognized worldwide to have chronic kidney disease. Glomerular and interstitial fibrosis are hallmarks of renal progression. However, fibrosis of the kidney remains an unresolved challenge, and its molecular mechanisms are still not fully understood. Gremlin is an embryogenic gene that has been shown to play a key role in nephrogenesis, and its expression is generally low in the normal adult kidney. However, gremlin expression is elevated in many human renal diseases, including diabetic nephropathy, pauci-immune glomerulonephritis and chronic allograft nephropathy. Several studies have proposed that gremlin may be involved in renal damage by acting as a downstream mediator of TGF-?. To examine the in vivo role of gremlin in kidney pathophysiology, we generated seven viable transgenic mouse lines expressing human gremlin (GREM1) specifically in renal proximal tubular epithelial cells under the control of an androgen-regulated promoter. These lines demonstrated 1.2- to 200-fold increased GREM1 expression. GREM1 transgenic mice presented a normal phenotype and were without proteinuria and renal function involvement. In response to the acute renal damage cause by folic acid nephrotoxicity, tubule-specific GREM1 transgenic mice developed increased proteinuria after 7 and 14 days compared with wild-type treated mice. At 14 days tubular lesions, such as dilatation, epithelium flattening and hyaline casts, with interstitial cell infiltration and mild fibrosis were significantly more prominent in transgenic mice than wild-type mice. Tubular GREM1 overexpression was correlated with the renal upregulation of profibrotic factors, such as TGF-? and ?SMA, and with increased numbers of monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes compared to wild-type mice. Taken together, our results suggest that GREM1-overexpressing mice have an increased susceptibility to renal damage, supporting the involvement of gremlin in renal damage progression. This transgenic mouse model could be used as a new tool for enhancing the knowledge of renal disease progression.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by the absence of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin, muscle wasting, increased transforming growth factor type beta (TGF-?) signaling, and fibrosis. At the present time, the only clinically validated treatments for DMD are glucocorticoids. These drugs prolong muscle strength and ambulation of patients for a short term only and have severe adverse effects. Andrographolide, a bicyclic diterpenoid lactone, has traditionally been used for the treatment of colds, fever, laryngitis, and other infections with no or minimal side effects. We determined whether andrographolide treatment of mdx mice, an animal model for DMD, affects muscle damage, physiology, fibrosis, and efficiency of cell therapy.
The albumin overload model induces proteinuria and tubulointersitial damage, followed by hypertension when rats are exposed to a hypersodic diet. To understand the effect of kinin system stimulation on salt-sensitive hypertension and to explore its potential renoprotective effects, the model was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats that had previously received a high-potassium diet to enhance activity of the kinin pathway, followed with/without administration of icatibant to block the kinin B? receptor (B?R). A disease control group received albumin but not potassium or icatibant, and all groups were exposed to a hypersodic diet to induce salt-sensitive hypertension. Potassium treatment increased the synthesis and excretion of tissue kallikrein (Klk1/rKLK1) accompanied by a significant reduction in blood pressure and renal fibrosis and with downregulation of renal transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) mRNA and protein compared with rats that did not receive potassium. Participation of the B?R was evidenced by the fact that all beneficial effects were lost in the presence of the B?R antagonist. In vitro experiments using the HK-2 proximal tubule cell line showed that treatment of tubular cells with 10 nM bradykinin reduced the epithelial-mesenchymal transdifferentiation and albumin-induced production of TGF-?, and the effects produced by bradykinin were prevented by pretreatment with the B?R antagonist. These experiments support not only the pathogenic role of the kinin pathway in salt sensitivity but also sustain its role as a renoprotective, antifibrotic paracrine system that modulates renal levels of TGF-?.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a progressive fibrotic condition that may lead to end-stage renal disease and kidney failure. Transforming growth factor-?1 and bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP7) have been shown to induce DN-like changes in the kidney and protect the kidney from such changes, respectively. Recent data identified insulin action at the level of the nephron as a crucial factor in the development and progression of DN. Insulin requires a family of insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins for its physiological effects, and many reports have highlighted the role of insulin and IRS proteins in kidney physiology and disease. Here, we observed IRS2 expression predominantly in the developing and adult kidney epithelium in mouse and human. BMP7 treatment of human kidney proximal tubule epithelial cells (HK-2 cells) increases IRS2 transcription. In addition, BMP7 treatment of HK-2 cells induces an electrophoretic shift in IRS2 migration on SDS/PAGE, and increased association with phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase, probably due to increased tyrosine/serine phosphorylation. In a cohort of DN patients with a range of chronic kidney disease severity, IRS2 mRNA levels were elevated approximately ninefold, with the majority of IRS2 staining evident in the kidney tubules in DN patients. These data show that IRS2 is expressed in the kidney epithelium and may play a role in the downstream protective events triggered by BMP7 in the kidney. The specific up-regulation of IRS2 in the kidney tubules of DN patients also indicates a novel role for IRS2 as a marker and/or mediator of human DN progression.
Non-proliferative proteinuric diseases are the most common primary glomerular disorders causing end-stage renal disease. These disorders may associate low level glomerular inflammation and podocyte expression of inflammatory mediators. However, the factors regulating podocyte expression of inflammatory mediators in vivo in non-immune disorders are poorly understood. We have now explored the regulation and role of TWEAK receptor Fn14 in mediating glomerular inflammation in cultured podocytes and in experimental and human non-immune proteinuria. Transcriptomics disclosed Fn14 and MCP-1 mRNA upregulation in glomeruli from patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, as well as a correlation between the expression of both transcripts. Increased glomerular Fn14 and MCP-1 mRNA was confirmed in a second focal segmental glomerulosclerosis cohort and was also observed in membranous nephropathy. In human non-proliferative proteinuric kidney diseases podocytes displayed Fn14 and MCP-1 expression and NF?B activation. Podocyte Fn14 was increased in murine protein overload-induced proteinuria. In Fn14 knock-out mice with protein overload-induced proteinuria, glomerular and periglomerular macrophage infiltrates were reduced, as were MCP-1 mRNA and podocyte MCP-1 staining and podocyte numbers preserved as compared to wild-type counterparts. Adenovirus-mediated overexpression of TWEAK increased periglomerular macrophage infiltration in mice without prior kidney injury. In cultured podocytes inflammatory cytokines increased Fn14 mRNA and protein levels. TWEAK activated NF?B and increased MCP-1 mRNA and protein, an effect prevented by the NF?B inhibitor parthenolide. In conclusion, Fn14 activation results in NF?B-mediated pro-inflammatory effects on podocytes that may be relevant for the pathogenesis of non-proliferative proteinuric kidney disease of non-immune origin.
Apoptosis is a driving force of diabetic end-organ damage, including diabetic nephropathy (DN). However, the mechanisms that modulate diabetes-induced cell death are not fully understood. Heat shock protein 27 (HSP27/HSPB1) is a cell stress protein that regulates apoptosis in extrarenal cells and is expressed by podocytes exposed to toxins causing nephrotic syndrome. We investigated the regulation of HSPB1 expression and its function in podocytes exposed to factors contributing to DN, such as high glucose and angiotensin (Ang) II. HSPB1 expression was assessed in renal biopsies from patients with DN, minimal change disease or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), in a rat model of diabetes induced by streptozotocin (STZ) and in Ang II-infused rats. The regulation of HSPB1 was studied in cultured human podocytes and the function of HSPB1 expressed in response to pathophysiologically relevant stimuli was explored by short interfering RNA knockdown. Total kidney HSPB1 mRNA and protein expression was increased in rats with STZ-induced diabetes and in rats infused with Ang II. Upregulation of HSPB1 protein was confirmed in isolated diabetic glomeruli. Immunohistochemistry showed increased glomerular expression of HSPB1 in both models and localized glomerular HSPB1 to podocytes. HSPB1 protein was increased in glomerular podocytes from patients with DN or FSGS. In cultured human podocytes HSPB1 mRNA and protein expression was upregulated by high glucose concentrations and Ang II. High glucose, but not Ang II, promoted podocyte apoptosis. HSPB1 short interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting increased apoptosis in a high-glucose milieu and sensitized to Ang II or TGF?1-induced apoptosis by promoting caspase activation. In conclusion, both high glucose and Ang II contribute to HSPB1 upregulation. HSPB1 upregulation allows podocytes to better withstand an adverse high-glucose or Ang II-rich environment, such as can be found in DN.
Chile is a country with 17 million inhabitants, 13% of them living in rural areas, and with a per capita income of approximately US $14,500. Three percent of national income is assigned to the health budget, with a mixed public and private system, with guaranteed medical benefits from the state to cover chronic kidney disease (CKD) and renal replacement therapy (RRT). Hemodialysis has reached in 2009 a prevalence of 857 patients per million population (pmp). Peritoneal dialysis is less developed, with a prevalence of 40 patients pmp. Both therapies show good quality indexes with a patient mortality rate close to 12% per year. A centralized national renal transplantation program registered 5,949 renal transplants performed up to 2009. Renal survival at 5 years is 86% for living and 76% for cadaveric donor transplants. Organ donation is relatively low with 7.1 cadaveric donors pmp in 2009, despite legal and educational strategies to increase it. Although the country demonstrates one of the highest standards for RRT indexes in Latin America, the proportion of resources invested makes it necessary to improve early diagnosis and renal prevention policies to avoid having the growing incidence of CKD constrain the national health budget.
An important proportion of patients with essential hypertension are salt sensitive, defined as those who experience significant blood pressure changes according to the amount of salt intake. They have a disturbance in the pressure induced natriuresis mechanism and their kidneys have functional and morphological alterations consistent with an acquired tubulointerstitial alteration, afferent arteriole damage and alteration of peritubular capillaries. All these alterations lead to disturbances in sodium load excretion under normal pressures. There is also an associated activation of kidney vasoconstrictor/salt retaining systems and a reduction in the vasodilator/salt eliminating mechanisms. These alterations, that originate early in life, generate a new blood pressure level, that corrects natriuresis at the expense of a sustained hypertension.
The third version of the World Kidney Day will be held on May 13, 2010 in Chile and will be focused in diabetic renal damage, the main cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Currently, we are living a pandemic of CKD, a progressive and irreversible condition with high social and economic impact. In Chile, we have 857 patients per million inhabitants in hemodialysis and 35% are secondary to diabetes. Our general prevalence of diabetes is 4.2%, rising to 15% in people aged more than 64 years. With a 34% prevalence of hypertension, an aging population, high prevalence of obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle, there is an estimation of a rise in 85% of the prevalence of diabetes in South-America, for the next decades. The steps to be taken are clear: campaigns should be aimed at (1) prevention of type 2 diabetes; (2) screening for early diabetic kidney disease; (3) increasing patient awareness of kidney disease; (4) using medications of proven strategy and finally (5) research on new therapies. These concepts must be included in community and professional education to reduce the effects of this pandemic.
We have recently described that in an experimental model of atherosclerosis and in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) statins increased the activation of the Smad pathway by transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?), leading to an increase in TGF-?-dependent matrix accumulation and plaque stabilization. Angiotensin II (AngII) activates the Smad pathway and contributes to vascular fibrosis, although the in vivo contribution of TGF-? has not been completely elucidated. Our aim was to further investigate the mechanisms involved in AngII-induced Smad activation in the vasculature, and to clarify the beneficial effects of statins on AngII-induced vascular fibrosis. Infusion of AngII into rats for 3 days activates the Smad pathway and increases fibrotic-related factors, independently of TGF-?, in rat aorta. Treatment with atorvastatin or simvastatin inhibited AngII-induced Smad activation and related-fibrosis. In cultured rat VSMCs, direct AngII/Smad pathway activation was mediated by p38 MAPK and ROCK activation. Preincubation of VSMCs with statins inhibited AngII-induced Smad activation at all time points studied (from 20 minutes to 24 hours). All these data show that statins inhibited several AngII-activated intracellular signaling systems, including p38-MAPK and ROCK, which regulates the AngII/Smad pathway and related profibrotic factors and matrix proteins, independently of TGF-? responses. The inhibitory effect of statins on the AngII/Smad pathway could explain, at least in part, their beneficial effects on hypertension-induced vascular damage.
To study the predictive value of biopsy lesions in IgA nephropathy in a range of patient ages we retrospectively analyzed the cohort that was used to derive a new classification system for IgA nephropathy. A total of 206 adults and 59 children with proteinuria over 0.5 g/24 h/1.73 m(2) and an eGFR of stage-3 or better were followed for a median of 69 months. At the time of biopsy, compared with adults children had a more frequent history of macroscopic hematuria, lower adjusted blood pressure, and higher eGFR but similar proteinuria. Although their outcome was similar to that of adults, children had received more immunosuppressants and achieved a lower follow-up proteinuria. Renal biopsies were scored for variables identified by an iterative process as reproducible and independent of other lesions. Compared with adults, children had significantly more mesangial and endocapillary hypercellularity, and less segmental glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial damage, the four variables previously identified to predict outcome independent of clinical assessment. Despite these differences, our study found that the cross-sectional correlation between pathology and proteinuria was similar in adults and children. The predictive value of each specific lesion on the rate of decline of renal function or renal survival in IgA nephropathy was not different between children and adults.
Activation of Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) is an important mechanism by which hyperglycemia contributes to renal damage, suggesting that modulation of this pathway may prevent renal and vascular complications of diabetes. Here, we investigated the involvement of suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) as intracellular negative regulators of JAK/STAT activation in diabetic nephropathy. In a rat model, inducing diabetes resulted in JAK/STAT activation and increased expression of SOCS1 and SOCS3. In humans, we observed increased expression of glomerular and tubulointerstitial SOCS proteins in biopsies of patients with diabetic nephropathy. In vitro, high concentrations of glucose activated JAK/STAT/SOCS in human mesangial and tubular cells. Overexpression of SOCS reversed the glucose-induced activation of the JAK/STAT pathway, expression of STAT-dependent genes (chemokines, growth factors, and extracellular matrix proteins), and cell proliferation. In vivo, intrarenal delivery of adenovirus expressing SOCS1 and SOCS3 to diabetic rats significantly improved renal function and reduced renal lesions associated with diabetes, such as mesangial expansion, fibrosis, and influx of macrophages. SOCS gene delivery also decreased the activation of STAT1 and STAT3 and the expression of proinflammatory and profibrotic proteins in the diabetic kidney. In summary, these results provide direct evidence for a link between the JAK/STAT/SOCS axis and hyperglycemia-induced cell responses in the kidney. Suppression of the JAK/STAT pathway by increasing intracellular SOCS proteins may have therapeutic potential in diabetic nephropathy.
Mutations in the TRPC6 calcium channel (Transient receptor potential channel 6) gene have been associated with familiar forms of Focal and Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) affecting children and adults. In addition, acquired glomerular diseases are associated with increased expression levels of TRPC6. However, the exact role of TRPC6 in the pathogenesis of FSGS remains to be elucidated. In this work we describe the generation and phenotypic characterization of three different transgenic mouse lines with podocyte-specific overexpression of the wild type or any of two mutant forms of Trpc6 (P111Q and E896K) previously related to FSGS. Consistent with the human phenotype a non-nephrotic range of albuminuria was detectable in almost all transgenic lines. The histological analysis demonstrated that the transgenic mice developed a kidney disease similar to human FSGS. Differences of 2-3 folds in the presence of glomerular lesions were found between the non transgenic and transgenic mice expressing Trpc6 in its wild type or mutant forms specifically in podocytes. Electron microscopy of glomerulus from transgenic mice showed extensive podocyte foot process effacement. We conclude that overexpression of Trpc6 (wild type or mutated) in podocytes is sufficient to cause a kidney disease consistent with FSGS. Our results contribute to reinforce the central role of podocytes in the etiology of FSGS. These mice constitute an important new model in which to study future therapies and outcomes of this complex disease.
Vascular calcification has been widely recognized as a significant contributor to cardiovascular risk in patients with chronic kidney disease. Recent evidence suggests that BMP-7 decreases the vascular calcification observed in uraemic rats, while BMP-2 could also be participating in this process. Gremlin, a bone morphogenetic protein antagonist, has been detected in rat aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), and since the role of the VSMCs into vascular calcification in uraemia is considered critical in this process, we hypothesized that gremlin could be participating in its pathogenesis. With this aim, we studied its expression in aorta from uraemic rats with calcitriol-induced vascular calcification and in 16-vessel biopsies of uraemic patients undergoing kidney transplantation.
IgA nephropathy is the most common glomerular disease worldwide, yet there is no international consensus for its pathological or clinical classification. Here a new classification for IgA nephropathy is presented by an international consensus working group. The goal of this new system was to identify specific pathological features that more accurately predict risk of progression of renal disease in IgA nephropathy, thus enabling both clinicians and pathologists to improve individual patient prognostication. In a retrospective analysis, sequential clinical data were obtained on 265 adults and children with IgA nephropathy who were followed for a median of 5 years. Renal biopsies from all patients were scored by pathologists blinded to the clinical data for pathological variables identified as reproducible by an iterative process. Four of these variables: (1) the mesangial hypercellularity score, (2) segmental glomerulosclerosis, (3) endocapillary hypercellularity, and (4) tubular atrophy/interstitial fibrosis were subsequently shown to have independent value in predicting renal outcome. These specific pathological features withstood rigorous statistical analysis even after taking into account all clinical indicators available at the time of biopsy as well as during follow-up. The features have prognostic significance and we recommended they be taken into account for predicting outcome independent of the clinical features both at the time of presentation and during follow-up. The value of crescents was not addressed due to their low prevalence in the enrolled cohort.
Pathological classifications in current use for the assessment of glomerular disease have been typically opinion-based and built on the expert assumptions of renal pathologists about lesions historically thought to be relevant to prognosis. Here we develop a unique approach for the pathological classification of a glomerular disease, IgA nephropathy, in which renal pathologists first undertook extensive iterative work to define pathologic variables with acceptable inter-observer reproducibility. Where groups of such features closely correlated, variables were further selected on the basis of least susceptibility to sampling error and ease of scoring in routine practice. This process identified six pathologic variables that could then be used to interrogate prognostic significance independent of the clinical data in IgA nephropathy (described in the accompanying article). These variables were (1) mesangial cellularity score; percentage of glomeruli showing (2) segmental sclerosis, (3) endocapillary hypercellularity, or (4) cellular/fibrocellular crescents; (5) percentage of interstitial fibrosis/tubular atrophy; and finally (6) arteriosclerosis score. Results for interobserver reproducibility of individual pathological features are likely applicable to other glomerulonephritides, but it is not known if the correlations between variables depend on the specific type of glomerular pathobiology. Variables identified in this study withstood rigorous pathology review and statistical testing and we recommend that they become a necessary part of pathology reports for IgA nephropathy. Our methodology, translating a strong evidence-based dataset into a working format, is a model for developing classifications of other types of renal disease.
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is an important profibrotic factor in kidney diseases. Blockade of endogenous CTGF ameliorates experimental renal damage and inhibits synthesis of extracellular matrix in cultured renal cells. CTGF regulates several cellular responses, including adhesion, migration, proliferation, and synthesis of proinflammatory factors. Here, we investigated whether CTGF participates in the inflammatory process in the kidney by evaluating the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) pathway, a key signaling system that controls inflammation and immune responses. Systemic administration of CTGF to mice for 24 h induced marked infiltration of inflammatory cells in the renal interstitium (T lymphocytes and monocytes/macrophages) and led to elevated renal NF-kappaB activity. Administration of CTGF increased renal expression of chemokines (MCP-1 and RANTES) and cytokines (INF-gamma, IL-6, and IL-4) that recruit immune cells and promote inflammation. Treatment with a NF-kappaB inhibitor, parthenolide, inhibited CTGF-induced renal inflammatory responses, including the up-regulation of chemokines and cytokines. In cultured murine tubuloepithelial cells, CTGF rapidly activated the NF-kappaB pathway and the cascade of mitogen-activated protein kinases, demonstrating crosstalk between these signaling pathways. CTGF, via mitogen-activated protein kinase and NF-kappaB activation, increased proinflammatory gene expression. These data show that in addition to its profibrotic properties, CTGF contributes to the recruitment of inflammatory cells in the kidney by activating the NF-kappaB pathway.
Although metabolic derangement plays a central role in diabetic nephropathy, a better understanding of secondary mediators of injury may lead to new therapeutic strategies. Expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is increased in experimental diabetic nephropathy, and increased tubulointerstitial mRNA expression of its receptor, CD74, has been observed in human diabetic nephropathy. Whether CD74 transduces MIF signals in podocytes, however, is unknown. Here, we found glomerular and tubulointerstitial CD74 mRNA expression to be increased in Pima Indians with type 2 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the increased glomerular and tubular expression of CD74 in clinical and experimental diabetic nephropathy and localized glomerular CD74 to podocytes. In cultured human podocytes, CD74 was expressed at the cell surface, was upregulated by high concentrations of glucose and TNF-alpha, and was activated by MIF, leading to phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and p38. High glucose also induced CD74 expression in a human proximal tubule cell line (HK2). In addition, MIF induced the expression of the inflammatory mediators TRAIL and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in podocytes and HK2 cells in a p38-dependent manner. These data suggest that CD74 acts as a receptor for MIF in podocytes and may play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.
Angiotensin (Ang) II mediates pathophysiologial changes in the kidney. Ang-(1-7) by interacting with the G protein-coupled receptor Mas may also have important biological activities.In this study, renal deficiency for Mas diminished renal damage in models of renal insufficiency as unilateral ureteral obstruction and ischemia/reperfusion injury while the infusion of Ang-(1-7) to wild-type mice pronounced the pathological outcome by aggravating the inflammatory response. Mas deficiency inhibited NF-kappaB activation and thus the elevation of inflammation-stimulating cytokines, while Ang-(1-7) infusion had proinflammatory properties in experimental models of renal failure as well as under basal conditions. The Ang-(1-7)-mediated NF-kappaB activation was Mas dependent but did not involve Ang II receptors. Therefore, the blockade of the NF-kappaB-activating properties of the receptor Mas could be a new strategy in the therapy of failing kidney.
Chronic kidney disease is characterized by accumulation of extracellular matrix in the tubulointerstitial area. Fibroblasts are the main matrix-producing cells. One source of activated fibroblasts is the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). In cultured tubular epithelial cells, transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?1) induced Gremlin production associated with EMT phenotypic changes, and therefore Gremlin has been proposed as a downstream TGF-?1 mediator. Gremlin is a developmental gene upregulated in chronic kidney diseases associated with matrix accumulation, but its direct role in the modulation of renal fibrosis and its relation with TGF-? has not been investigated.
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-?1 (TGF-?1) has been involved in epithelial mesenchymal transition. AngII mimics many profibrotic actions of TGF-?1. 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-?1, 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.
TWEAK (tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis) is a TNF superfamily cytokine that activates the fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14) receptor. Transcriptional analysis of experimental kidney tubulointerstitial inflammation showed a correlation between an upregulation of the mRNA for the transmembrane chemokine CXCL16, a T-cell chemoattractant, and Fn14 activation. Exogenous TWEAK increased mouse kidney CXCL16 expression and T-lymphocyte infiltration in vivo, processes inhibited by the NF-?B inhibitor parthenolide. Tubular cell CXCL16 was increased in a nephrotoxic tubulointerstitial inflammation model and neutralizing anti-TWEAK antibodies decreased this CXCL16 expression and lymphocyte infiltration. In human kidney biopsies with tubulointerstitial inflammation, tubular cell CXCL16 and Fn14 expressions were associated with inflammatory infiltrates. TWEAK upregulated CXCL16 mRNA expression in cultured renal tubular cells in an NF-?B-dependent manner and increased soluble and cellular CXCL16 protein. CXCL16 modestly promoted the expression of cytokines in tubular cells expressing its receptor (CXCR6) and appeared to synergize with TWEAK to promote an inflammatory response; however, it did not modulate tubular cell proliferation or survival. Thus, TWEAK upregulates the expression of the chemokine CXCL16 in tubular epithelium and this may contribute to kidney tubulointerstitial inflammation.
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