Adiponectin promotes monocyte-to-fibroblast transition in renal fibrosis

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 Oct;24(10):1644-59. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013030217. Epub 2013 Jul 5.


Bone marrow-derived fibroblasts may contribute substantially to the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis through the excessive production and deposition of extracellular matrix. However, the mechanisms underlying the accumulation and activation of these fibroblasts are not understood. Here, we used a mouse model of tubulointerstitial fibrosis to determine whether adiponectin, which is elevated in CKD and is associated with disease progression, regulates monocyte-to-fibroblast transition and fibroblast activation in injured kidneys. In wild-type mice, the expression of adiponectin and the number of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts in the kidney increased after renal obstruction. In contrast, the obstructed kidneys of adiponectin-knockout mice had fewer bone marrow-derived fibroblasts. Adiponectin deficiency also led to a reduction in the number of myofibroblasts, the expression of profibrotic chemokines and cytokines, and the number of procollagen-expressing M2 macrophages in injured kidneys. Consistent with these findings, adiponectin-deficiency reduced the expression of collagen I and fibronectin. Similar results were observed in wild-type and adiponectin-knockout mice after ischemia-reperfusion injury. In cultured bone marrow-derived monocytes, adiponectin stimulated the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) and extracellular matrix proteins and activated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, specific activation of AMPK increased the expression of α-SMA and extracellular matrix proteins, while inhibition of AMPK attenuated these responses. Taken together, these findings identify adiponectin as a critical regulator of monocyte-to-fibroblast transition and renal fibrosis, suggesting that inhibition of adiponectin/AMPK signaling may represent a novel therapeutic target for fibrotic kidney disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Adiponectin / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology*
  • Fibrosis
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Nephrosclerosis / etiology*
  • Nephrosclerosis / metabolism
  • Nephrosclerosis / pathology*
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Ureteral Obstruction / pathology


  • Adiponectin
  • Cytokines
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases