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      Renal-protective effect of thalidomide in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats through anti-inflammatory pathway

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          Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a major microvascular complication in diabetes. An increasing body of evidence has shown that DN is related to chronic inflammation, kidney hypertrophy, and fibrosis. While thalidomide has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effects, the effects of thalidomide on the pathogenesis of DN are unclear. This study was undertaken to explore whether thalidomide has renal-protective effects in diabetic rats.


          Male Sprague Dawley rats were injected intraperitoneally with 50 mg/kg streptozotocin to induce diabetes. Diabetic rats were treated with thalidomide (200 mg/kg/d) for 8 weeks, and then blood and urine were collected for measurement of renal function-related parameters. Histopathology, immunohistochemistry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and Western blot analyses were performed to assess renal proinflammatory cytokines, fibrotic protein, and related signaling pathways.


          Diabetic rats exhibited obvious renal structural and functional abnormalities, as well as renal inflammation and fibrosis. Compared with diabetic control rats, those treated with thalidomide showed significantly improved histological alterations and biomarkers of renal function, as well as reduced expression of renal inflammatory cytokines, including NF-κB and MCP-1. Furthermore, renal fibrotic proteins, such as TGF-β1, TβRII, TβRI, smad3, collagen IV, and fibronectin were also remarkably suppressed. Treatment with thalidomide markedly stimulated the phosphorylation of AMPKα.


          In this study, thalidomide suppressed the inflammatory and fibrotic processes in DN. These effects were partly mediated by the activation of AMPKα, and inhibition of the NF-κB/MCP-1 and TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathways. These results suggest that thalidomide may have therapeutic potential in diabetic renal injury through the anti-inflammatory pathway.

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          Most cited references 41

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          AMP-activated protein kinase inhibits NF-κB signaling and inflammation: impact on healthspan and lifespan

          Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a crucial regulator of energy metabolic homeostasis and thus a major survival factor in a variety of metabolic stresses and also in the aging process. Metabolic syndrome is associated with a low-grade, chronic inflammation, primarily in adipose tissue. A low-level of inflammation is also present in the aging process. There are emerging results indicating that AMPK signaling can inhibit the inflammatory responses induced by the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) system. The NF-κB subunits are not direct phosphorylation targets of AMPK, but the inhibition of NF-κB signaling is mediated by several downstream targets of AMPK, e.g., SIRT1, PGC-1α, p53, and Forkhead box O (FoxO) factors. AMPK signaling seems to enhance energy metabolism while it can repress inflammatory responses linked to chronic stress, e.g., in nutritional overload and during the aging process. AMPK can inhibit endoplasmic reticulum and oxidative stresses which are involved in metabolic disorders and the aging process. Interestingly, many target proteins of AMPK are so-called longevity factors, e.g., SIRT1, p53, and FoxOs, which not only can increase the stress resistance and extend the lifespan of many organisms but also inhibit the inflammatory responses. The activation capacity of AMPK declines in metabolic stress and with aging which could augment the metabolic diseases and accelerate the aging process. We will review the AMPK pathways involved in the inhibition of NF-κB signaling and suppression of inflammation. We also emphasize that the capacity of AMPK to repress inflammatory responses can have a significant impact on both healthspan and lifespan.
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            Extracellular matrix metabolism in diabetic nephropathy.

            Diabetic nephropathy is characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix proteins in the mesangium and basement membrane of the glomerulus and in the renal tubulointerstitium. This review summarizes the main changes in protein composition of the glomerular mesangium and basement membrane and the evidence that, in the mesangium, these are initiated by changes in glucose metabolism and the formation of advanced glycation end products. Both processes generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). The review includes discussion of how ROS may activate intracellular signaling pathways leading to the activation of redox-sensitive transcription factors. This in turn leads to change in the expression of genes encoding extracellular matrix proteins and the protease systems responsible for their turnover.
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              AMPK dysregulation promotes diabetes-related reduction of superoxide and mitochondrial function.

              Diabetic microvascular complications have been considered to be mediated by a glucose-driven increase in mitochondrial superoxide anion production. Here, we report that superoxide production was reduced in the kidneys of a steptozotocin-induced mouse model of type 1 diabetes, as assessed by in vivo real-time transcutaneous fluorescence, confocal microscopy, and electron paramagnetic resonance analysis. Reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis and phosphorylation of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) were observed in kidneys from diabetic mice. These observations were consistent with an overall reduction of mitochondrial glucose oxidation. Activity of AMPK, the major energy-sensing enzyme, was reduced in kidneys from both diabetic mice and humans. Mitochondrial biogenesis, PDH activity, and mitochondrial complex activity were rescued by treatment with the AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR). AICAR treatment induced superoxide production and was linked with glomerular matrix and albuminuria reduction in the diabetic kidney. Furthermore, diabetic heterozygous superoxide dismutase 2 (Sod2(+/-)) mice had no evidence of increased renal disease, and Ampka2(-/-) mice had increased albuminuria that was not reduced with AICAR treatment. Reduction of mitochondrial superoxide production with rotenone was sufficient to reduce AMPK phosphorylation in mouse kidneys. Taken together, these results demonstrate that diabetic kidneys have reduced superoxide and mitochondrial biogenesis and activation of AMPK enhances superoxide production and mitochondrial function while reducing disease activity.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                09 January 2018
                : 12
                : 89-98
                [1 ]Department of Nephrology
                [2 ]Department of Endocrinology, Affiliated People’s Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, Shanxi Provincial People’s Hospital, Taiyuan, Shanxi, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Rongshan Li, Department of Nephrology, Affiliated People’s Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, Shanxi Provincial People’s Hospital, No 29, Shuangta Road, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030012, People’s Republic of China, Tel +86 187 3419 5439, Email rongshanli13@ 123456163.com
                © 2018 Zhang et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                nf-κb, tgf-β1, ampk, diabetic nephropathy, thalidomide


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