Aims/hypothesis: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) has various extra-pancreatic actions, in addition to its enhancement of insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells. The GLP-1 receptor is produced in kidney tissue. However, the direct effect of GLP-1 on diabetic nephropathy remains unclear. Here we demonstrate that a GLP-1 receptor agonist, exendin-4, exerts renoprotective effects through its anti-inflammatory action via the GLP-1 receptor without lowering blood glucose.
Methods: We administered exendin-4 at 10 μg/kg body weight daily for 8 weeks to a streptozotocin-induced rat model of type 1 diabetes and evaluated their urinary albumin excretion, metabolic data, histology and morphometry. We also examined the direct effects of exendin-4 on glomerular endothelial cells and macrophages in vitro.
Results: Exendin-4 ameliorated albuminuria, glomerular hyperfiltration, glomerular hypertrophy and mesangial matrix expansion in the diabetic rats without changing blood pressure or body weight. Exendin-4 also prevented macrophage infiltration, and decreased protein levels of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and type IV collagen, as well as decreasing oxidative stress and nuclear factor-κB activation in kidney tissue. In addition, we found that the GLP-1 receptor was produced on monocytes/macrophages and glomerular endothelial cells. We demonstrated that in vitro exendin-4 acted directly on the GLP-1 receptor, and attenuated release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from macrophages and ICAM-1 production on glomerular endothelial cells.
Conclusions/interpretation: These results indicate that GLP-1 receptor agonists may prevent disease progression in the early stage of diabetic nephropathy through direct effects on the GLP-1 receptor in kidney tissue.