Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and their receptor (RAGE) play a role in diabetic nephropathy. Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, contributes to diabetic nephropathy. We have found that glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) inhibits the AGE-induced inflammatory reactions in endothelial cells. However, effects of GLP-1 on the AGE-RAGE-ADMA axis are unknown. This study examined the effects of GLP-1 on reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, gene expression of protein arginine methyltransfetase-1 (PRMT-1), an enzyme that mainly generates ADMA, and ADMA levels in human proximal tubular cells. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats received continuous i.p. infusion of 0.3 μg of vehicle or 1.5 μg of the GLP-1 analog exendin-4 per kilogram of body weight for 2 weeks. We further investigated whether and how exendin-4 treatment reduced ADMA levels and renal damage in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. GLP-1 inhibited the AGE-induced RAGE and PRMT-1 gene expression, ROS, and ADMA generation in tubular cells, which were blocked by small-interfering RNAs raised against GLP-1 receptor. Exendin-4 treatment decreased gene expression of Rage, Prmt-1, Icam-1, and Mcp-1 and ADMA level; reduced urinary excretions of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine and albumin; and improved histopathologic changes of the kidney in diabetic rats. Our present study suggests that GLP-1 receptor agonist may inhibit the AGE-RAGE-mediated ADMA generation by suppressing PRMT-1 expression via inhibition of ROS generation, thereby protecting against the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy.
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