Background: Enhanced intrarenal angiotensin II (Ang II) activity may contribute to diabetic nephropathy. The proximal tubule is a proposed site of significant intrarenal Ang II production. We determined the effect of early diabetes on mRNA expression of components of the proximal tubule renin-angiotensin system.
Methods: Three groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were studied after two weeks: (1) control (C), (2) streptozotocin-induced diabetes (STZ), and (3) STZ-induced diabetes, with normoglycemia maintained by insulin implants (STZ-I). Competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to assay mRNA for renin, angiotensinogen, and angiotensin-converting enzyme in suspensions of proximal tubules; plasma and kidney levels of Ang II were measured by radioimmunoassay, and Western analysis of Ang II subtype 1 (AT1) receptors was performed.
Results: STZ rats tended to have increased plasma and intrarenal levels of Ang II compared with C and STZ-I rats. In proximal tubules, mRNA for renin was significantly increased in STZ rats, with reversal to control values in STZ-I rats (C, 2432 +/- 437 vs. STZ, 5688 +/- 890 fg/0.25 microg RNA, P < 0.05 vs. C, N = 9, vs. STZ-I, 1676 +/- 376 fg/0.25 microg RNA, P = NS vs. C). In STZ rats, the AT1 receptor antagonist losartan caused a further fivefold increase in proximal tubule renin mRNA, associated with proximal tubular renin immunostaining. STZ had no significant effect on mRNA expression for angiotensinogen or angiotensin-converting enzyme in proximal tubules. By Western blot analysis, cortical and proximal tubule AT1 receptor protein expression was significantly decreased in STZ rats.
Conclusions: These data suggest activation of the proximal tubule renin-angiotensin system in early STZ diabetes, mediated at least partly by enhanced expression of renin mRNA. Increased local production of Ang II could contribute to tubulointerstitial injury in this model.