Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is characterized by a cluster of health factors that indicate a higher risk for cardio-renal diseases. Recent evidence indicates that antioxidants from berries are alternative to attenuate oxidative stress and inflammation. We tested the hypothesis that inflammation-induced renal damage is triggered by the activation of TLR4, and subsequent modulation of redox-sensitive molecules and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway.
Methods: Five-week old lean and obese Zucker rats (LZR and OZR) were fed a blueberry-enriched diet or an isocaloric control diet for 15 weeks. A glucose tolerance test and acute renal clearance experiments were performed. Gene and protein expression levels for TLR4, cytokines and phosphorylation of ERK and p38MAPK were measured. Kidney redox status and urinary albumin levels were quantified. Renal pathology was evaluated histologically.
Results: Control OZR exhibited lower glucose tolerance; exacerbated renal function parameters; increased oxidative stress. Gene and protein expression levels of TLR4 were higher and this was accompanied by increased renal pathology with extensive albuminuria and deterioration in antioxidant levels in OZR. In addition, OZR had increased phosphorylation of ERK and p38MAPK. Blueberry-fed OZR exhibited significant improvements in all these parameters compared to OZR.
Conclusion: TLR4-MAPK signaling pathway is a key to the renal structural injury and dysfunction in MetS and blueberry (BB) protect against this damage by inhibiting TLR4.
Significance: This is the first study to put forth a potential mechanism of TLR4-induced kidney damage in a model of MetS and to elucidate a downstream mechanism by which blueberry exert their reno-protective effects.