Fluvastatin ameliorates podocyte injury in proteinuric rats via modulation of excessive Rho signaling

Shigeru Shibata, Miki Nagase, Toshiro Fujita
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: JASN 2006, 17 (3): 754-64
Statins have been reported to confer renoprotection in several experimental models of renal disease through pleiotropic actions. The roles of statins in glomerular podocytes have not been explored. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of fluvastatin on podocyte and tubulointerstitial injury in puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN)-induced nephrosis. PAN induced massive proteinuria and serum creatinine elevation on day 7, which were significantly suppressed by fluvastatin. Immunofluorescence studies of podocyte-associated proteins nephrin and podocin revealed diminished and discontinuous staining patterns in rats with PAN nephrosis, indicating severe podocyte injury. Fluvastatin treatment dramatically mitigated the abnormal staining profiles. Reduction of nephrin expression by PAN and its reversal by fluvastatin were confirmed by quantitative analyses. By electron microscopy, effacement of foot processes was ameliorated in fluvastatin-treated rats. Fluvastatin also mitigated tubulointerstitial damage in PAN nephrosis, with the repression of PAN-induced NF-kappaB and activator protein-1 activation in the kidneys. In addition, expression of activated membrane-bound small GTPase RhoA was markedly increased in the glomeruli of PAN nephrosis, which was inhibited by fluvastatin treatment. In cultured podocytes, fluvastatin suppressed PAN-evoked activation of RhoA and actin cytoskeletal reorganization. Furthermore, fasudil, a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor, successfully ameliorated PAN-induced podocyte damage and proteinuria. In summary, fluvastatin alleviated podocyte and tubulointerstitial injury in PAN nephrosis. The beneficial effects of fluvastatin on podocytes can be attributable to direct modulation of excessive RhoA activity. Our data suggest a therapeutic role for statins in clinical conditions that are relevant to podocyte injury.

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