Effect of Cordyceps sinensis and Tripterygium wilfordii polyglycosidium on podocytes in rats with diabetic nephropathy.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) and Tripterygium wilfordii polyglycosidium (TWP) on podocytes in rats with diabetic nephropathy (DN). DN rat models were established and divided randomly into normal control (group A), DN (group B), CS (group C), TWP (group D) and CS and TWP groups (group E). After 12 weeks, levels of 24-h urinary protein, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), serum creatinine (SCR), white blood cells, blood glucose (GLU), aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and kidney weight (KW)/body weight (BW) were determined. Renal pathological changes were evaluated using hematoxylin and eosin staining, whereas the structural changes in the podocytes were observed under a transmission electron microscope. The expression levels of nephrin and podocin were evaluated using immunofluorescence staining. Compared with group A, the SCR and BUN levels in group B were higher (P<0.05) and the GLU, KW/BW and the 24-h urine protein were markedly higher (P<0.01). Moreover, incidences of glomerular disorders, chronic tubulointerstitial damage and glomerular podocyte lesions in groups B, C, D and E were observed, compared with group A. The high cortical expression of nephrin and podocin protein decreased. Compared with group B, the KW/BW and 24-h urinary protein level in groups C, D and E were lower (P<0.01). The glomeruli, tubules and podocytes exhibited pathomorphological improvements and the nephrin and podocin protein expression levels were higher in the nephridial tissue. A decrease in KW/BW and the 24-h urinary protein level, as well as improvements in glomerular disorder, chronic tubulointerstitial damage and glomerular podocyte lesions, were observed in groups C, D and E. Therefore, the results demonstrated that CS and TWP exhibited a protective effect on the podocytes of rats with DN. Moreover, CS combined with TWP increased this protective effect.