Background: It has been suggested that lipids promote renal injury and that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase inhibitors confer renoprotection in certain renal diseases, including diabetic nephropathy.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to sham, subtotal nephrectomy (STNx) or STNx + atorvastatin groups. After 12 weeks, proteinuria, renal function, glomerular injury, renal transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) gene expression and macrophage (ED1-positive cells) accumulation were assessed. In addition, the effects of HMG CoA reductase in human diabetic nephropathy were reviewed.
Results: Atorvastatin therapy was associated with a modest reduction in proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis without influencing lipid levels or renal function in STNx rats. These effects were associated with decreased renal TGF-beta 1 gene expression and less glomerular and tubulointerstitial macrophage accumulation. The renoprotective effects of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors in both insulin- and non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects with either incipient or overt nephropathy appear to be highly variable.
Conclusions: HMG CoA reductase inhibition appears to confer renoprotection via effects on prosclerotic cytokines such as TGF-beta and macrophage accumulation, independent of their lipid-lowering properties. The role of lipid-lowering agents in early or overt diabetic nephropathy remains to be fully ascertained.