Sorafenib ameliorates renal fibrosis through inhibition of TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Lining Jia, Xiaotao Ma, Baosong Gui, Heng Ge, Li Wang, Yan Ou, Lifang Tian, Zhao Chen, Zhaoyang Duan, Jin Han, Rongguo Fu
PloS One 2015, 10 (2): e0117757

OBJECTIVE: This study was to investigate whether sorafenib can inhibit the progression of renal fibrosis and to study the possible mechanisms of this effect.

METHODS: Eight-week-old rats were subjected to unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) and were intragastrically administered sorafenib, while control and sham groups were administered vehicle for 14 or 21 days. NRK-52E cells were treated with TGF-β1 and sorafenib for 24 or 48 hours. HE and Masson staining were used to visualize fibrosis of the renal tissue in each group. The expression of α-SMA and E-cadherin in kidney tissue and NRK-52E cells were performed using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. The apoptosis rate of NRK-52E cells was determined by flow cytometry analysis. The protein levels of Smad3 and p-Smad3 in kidney tissue and NRK-52E cells were detected by western blot analysis.

RESULTS: HE staining demonstrated that kidney interstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, and inflammatory cell infiltration in the sorafenib-treated-UUO groups were significantly decreased compared with the vehicle-treated-UUO group (p<0.05). Masson staining showed that the area of fibrosis was significantly decreased in the sorafenib-treated-UUO groups compared with vehicle-treated-UUO group (p<0.01). The size of the kidney did not significantly increase; the cortex of the kidney was thicker and had a richer blood supply in the middle-dose sorafenib group compared with the vehicle-treated-UUO group (p<0.05). Compared with the vehicle-treated-UUO and TGF-β-stimulated NRK-52E groups, the expression of a-SMA and E-cadherin decreased and increased, respectively, in the UUO kidneys and NRK-52E cells of the sorafenib-treated groups (p<0.05). The apoptotic rate of NRK-52E cells treated with sorafenib decreased for 24 hours in a dose-dependent manner (p<0.05). Compared with the vehicle-treated UUO and TGF-β-stimulated NRK-52E groups, the ratio of p-Smad3 to Smad3 decreased in the sorafenib-treated groups (p<0.05).

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that sorafenib may useful for the treatment of renal fibrosis through the suppression of TGF-β/Smad3-induced EMT signaling.

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