Objective: Inflammation and fibrosis are essential promoters in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy (DN) in type 2 diabetes. The present study examined the anti-inflammation and anti-fibrosis effect of Tangshen Formula (TSF), a traditional Chinese medicine, on DN.
Research design and methods: Protective role of TSF in DN was examined in a rat model of type 2 DN that was established by high-fat diet-fed and low-dose-streptozotocin injection. TSF was suspended in 0.5% CMC-Na solution and delivered by oral gavage at a dosage of 1.67g/Kg body weight/day. The therapeutic effects and mechanisms of TSF on diabetic kidney injury were examined.
Results: We found that TSF treatment for 20 weeks attenuated DN by significantly inhibiting urinary excretion of albumin and renal histological injuries. These beneficial effects were associated with an inactivation of NF-κB signaling, thereby blocking the upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNFα), chemokine (MCP-1), and macrophage infiltration in the TSF-treated rats with type 2 DN. In addition, TSF treatment also inactivated TGF-β/Smad3 signaling and therefore suppressed renal fibrosis including expressions of fibronectin, collagen I, and collagen IV. Further studies revealed that the inhibitory effect of TSF on TGF-β/Smad3 and NF-κB signaling in DN was associated with inhibition of Smurf2-dependent ubiquitin degradation of Smad7.
Conclusions: The present study reveals that TSF has therapeutic potential for type 2 DN in rats. Blockade of NF-κB-driven renal inflammation and TGF-β/Smad3-mediated renal fibrosis by preventing the Smurf2-mediated Smad7 degradation pathway may be mechanisms through which TSF inhibits type 2 DN.