Background: Many forms of glomerular diseases are characterized by injury to the glomerular visceral epithelial cell, or podocyte, which usually results in depletion of podocyte number. However, in diseases where podocyte proliferation occurs there is a rapid decline in renal function. The consequences of inhibiting podocyte proliferation on renal function have not been fully established. At the level of the cell cycle, cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) is required for proliferation.
Methods: To determine if decreasing podocyte proliferation improves renal function, CDK2 activity was reduced with the purine analogue roscovitine in mice with antibody-induced experimental glomerulonephritis. Nephritic animals given vehicle, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), served as control. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN), proteinuria, and renal histology were assessed at days 5 and 14 of disease.
Results: Inhibiting CDK2 activity resulted in a marked decrease in glomerular DNA synthesis [5-bromo-2'-deoxyridine (BrdU) staining] in Roscovitine-treated animals at day 5 of nephritis (P < 0.05 versus control). This was associated with a significant decrease in BUN and glomerulosclerosis at day 14 (P < 0.01 versus control) and a decrease in the accumulation of the extracellular matrix protein laminin (P < 0.01 versus control).
Conclusion: Inhibiting podocyte proliferation in experimental glomerulonephritis is associated with improvement in renal function and histology, suggesting that inhibiting CDK2 activity is a potential therapeutic target for glomerular diseases characterized by podocyte proliferation.