06 March 2020
Background: Recombinant human soluble thrombomodulin (rhTM) was approved in 2008 and has been used for treatment of disseminated intravascular coagulation in Japan. The antifibrotic effects of rhTM in acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are well established, but the therapeutic potential of rhTM in renal fibrosis remains poorly understood. Methods: Nephrotoxic serum nephritis (NTS-N) was induced in 22 female Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats on day 0. Rats were administered either rhTM or vehicle intraperitoneally, every day from day 4 to day 55. Rats were sacrificed on day 56 when renal fibrosis was established and renal morphological investigations were performed. In vitro, rat renal fibroblasts (NRK-49F) were pretreated with rhTM or saline, and expression levels of profibrogenic gene induced by thrombin were analyzed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Results: Compared to WKY-GN-vehicle rats, the body weights of WKY-GN-rhTM rats were significantly greater on day 55. By day 56, rhTM had significantly reduced serum creatinine levels in NTS-N. On the other hand, urinary protein excretion was comparable between the two treatment groups throughout the study. The percentage of Masson trichrome-positive areas in WKY-GN-rhTM rats was significantly lower compared to that in WKY-GN-vehicle rats. Glomerular fibrin deposition was significantly reduced in WKY-GN-rhTM rats. In addition, rhTM significantly reduced the renal cortical mRNA expression levels of TNF-α, Toll-like receptor 4, MYD88, TGF-β, αSMA, collagen I, collagen III, fibronectin, and protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1), a thrombin receptor. In vitro, thrombin stimulation of NRK-49F cells significantly enhanced the mRNA expression levels of αSMA and PAR1, and these upregulations were significantly reduced by pretreatment with rhTM. Conclusions: Administration of rhTM after establishment of crescentic glomerulonephritis (GN) attenuated the subsequent development of renal fibrosis in NTS-N, possibly in part by inhibiting thrombin-mediated fibrogenesis. Our results suggest that rhTM may offer a therapeutic option for limiting the progression of chronic kidney disease in crescentic GN.