Background: Zerumbone is one of the pungent constituents of Zingiber zerumbet (L) Smith (Zingiberaceae family). The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of zerumbone in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy (DN).
Methods: Diabetic rats were treated orally with zerumbone (20 or 40 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks. Changes in renal function-related parameters in plasma and urine were analyzed at the end of the study. Kidneys were isolated for pathology histology, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analyses.
Results: Diabetic rats exhibited renal dysfunction, as evidenced by reduced creatinine clearance, increased blood glucose, blood urea nitrogen and proteinuria, along with marked elevation in the ratio of kidney weight to body weight, that were reversed by zerumbone. Zerumbone treatment was found to markedly improve histological architecture in the diabetic kidney. Hyperglycemia induced p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, leading to increased infiltration of macrophages and increased levels of interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α. All of the above abnormalities were reversed by zerumbone treatment, which also decreased the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, transforming growth factor-β1 and fibronectin in the diabetic kidneys.
Conclusions: The beneficial effect of zerumbone in rats with DN is at least in part through antihyperglycemia which was accompanied by inhibition of macrophage infiltration via reducing p38 mediated inflammatory response.