N-acetylcysteine protects against diabetic nephropathy through control of oxidative and nitrosative stress by recovery of nitric oxide in rats

Guilherme B Nogueira, Giovana R Punaro, Clemerson S Oliveira, Fabiane R Maciel, Thamires O Fernandes, Deyse Y Lima, Adelson M Rodrigues, Margaret G Mouro, Sergio R R Araujo, Elisa M S Higa
Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry 2018 August 1, 78: 22-31
The diabetes mellitus (DM) induces several changes, with substantial increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The ROS cause damage to systemic and renal microvasculature, which could be one of the mechanisms involved in the development of diabetic nephropathy (DN). The ROS modulate other substances like the nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator with important role in the renal function. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant that acts replenishing intracellular cysteine levels, which is essential for glutathione formation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of early or late NAC treatment on oxidative/nitrosative stress in DN progression. All rats were submitted to unilateral nephrectomy and diabetes was induced with streptozotocin. The animals were allocated into six groups: controls that received water (CTL) or NAC (CTL + NAC); diabetic groups that received early or late, water (DM-E; DM-L) or NAC (DM + NAC-E; DM + NAC-L), started on 5th day (early) or 4th week (late) after diabetes induction, during 8 weeks. After NAC treatment, the rats were placed in individual metabolic cages to obtain urine and blood samples for analysis of metabolic profile, renal function, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and NO. At the end of the protocol, the renal cortex was removed for TBARS, NOS evaluation, antioxidants markers and histology. The DM-E group compared to CTL showed a significant increase in glycemia and proteinuria and impaired renal function; there was a significant increase of TBARS in plasma, urine and renal tissue, and also a significant decrease in plasma NO, which were reverted after early NAC treatment. The eNOS was decreased and iNOS was increased in DM-E vs. CTL, p < 0.05. The early NAC treatment in DM rats reduced proteinuria, creatinine, urea, TBARS and iNOS and, increased creatinine clearance, NO and eNOS, increasing significantly the antioxidant defenses, promoting elevated catalase and glutathione compared to DM-E group, all p < 0.05. The late NAC treatment in diabetic rats vs.DM-E showed reduced proteinuria and TBARS excretion and higher values of creatinine clearance and NO, all statistically significant. Histological analysis of the animals in DM-E or DM-L showed significant tubular changes with degeneration and vacuolization in tubular cells, dilated tubular lumen, intense glycosidic degeneration, and discreet mesangial expansion with interstitial fibrosis area. The DM + NAC-E group showed moderate glycosidic degeneration, however, did not present tubular degeneration or fibrosis. The DM + NAC-L group showed severe glycosidic degeneration, moderate tubular cell degeneration, light and focal dilatation of the tubules, with no fibrosis. Our study showed that NAC protected the diabetic rats against renal injury, probably due to the control of oxidative stress via recovery of the NO bioavailability, showing that early NAC was more effective than late treatment. All these data suggest that NAC may be useful in the adjuvant treatment in a safe way, in the early phase of the disease. Eventually, prolonged treatment, even if it is started later, could change the natural history of the disease, delaying the complications of diabetes in renal tissue.

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