The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and kidney impairment in diabetic nephropathy (DN) mice as well as the renoprotective effect of rhein (RH). Mice were randomly divided into four groups (n = 6): db/db mice treated with RH (DN + RH), db/db mice (DN), db/m mice treated with RH (NC + RH) and db/m mice (NC). RH-treated groups were administered orally at a daily dose 120 mg/kg. Mice were sacrificed after 12 weeks of treatments. In our study, increased albuminuria, together with weight gain and hyperglycemia was observed in the beginning of the study and continued to increase throughout the length of the study (12 weeks). Histopathologic changes were observed in the DN group. Expectedly, mice receiving the treatment with RH were protected from this injury. Meanwhile, the expression of nephrin, a podocyte-specific marker, was significantly reduced while wnt1, p-GSK-3β/tGSK-3β, p-β-catenin/tβ-catenin were higher in the DN group mice when analyzed by immunofluorescence and Western blotting. RH reversed these above changes. wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway participates in RH ameliorating kidney injury in DN mice. The manipulation of RH might act as a promising therapeutic intervention for DN.
Keywords: Diabetic nephropathy; Rhein; db/db mice; wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway.