1. Division of of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea
2. Division of of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Incheon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea
Objectives: A newly developed angiotensin II receptor blocker, fimasartan, is effective in lowering blood pressure through its action on the renin-angiotensin system. Renal interstitial fibrosis, believed to be due to oxidative injury, is an end-stage process in the progression of chronic kidney disease. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is known to regulate cellular oxidative stress and induce expression of antioxidant genes. In this study we investigated the role of Nrf2 in fimasartan-mediated antioxidant effects in mice with renal fibrosis induced by unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO).
Materials and Methods: UUO was induced surgically in mice, followed by either no treatment with fimasartan or the intraperitoneal administration of fimasartan (3 mg/kg/day). On day 7, we evaluated the changes in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and the expression of Nrf2 and its downstream antioxidant genes, as well as renal inflammation, apoptosis, and fibrosis in the obstructed kidneys. The effect of fimasartan on the Nrf2 pathway was also investigated in HK-2 cells stimulated by tumor necrosis factor-α.
Results: The mice with surgically induced UUO showed increased renal inflammation and fibrosis as evidenced by histopathologic findings and total collagen content in the kidney. These effects were attenuated in the obstructed kidneys of the fimasartan-treated mice. Fimasartan treatment inhibited RAS activation and the expression of Nox1, Nox2, and Nox4. In contrast, fimasartan upregulated the renal expression of Nrf2 and its downstream signaling molecules (such as NQO1; HO-1; GSTa2 and GSTm3). Furthermore, it increased the expression of antioxidant enzymes, including CuSOD, MnSOD, and catalase. The fimasartan-treated mice had significantly less apoptosis on TUNEL staining, with decreased levels of pro-apoptotic protein and increased levels of anti-apoptotic protein. In the HK-2 cells, fimasartan treatment inhibited RAS activation, decreased expression of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and upregulated the Nrf2 pathway.
Conclusions: These results suggest that fimasartan has beneficial effects in reducing renal oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis. Possible mechanisms to explain these effects are inhibition of RAS and MAPKs and upregulation of Nrf2 signaling, with subsequent induction of antioxidant pathways.
Keywords: fimasartan, nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2, renin-angiotensin system, oxidative stress, MAPKs