Background: The pharmacological blockade of galectin-3 (Gal-3), a β-galactoside-binding lectin, reduces renal impairment in acute kidney injury, hyperaldosteronism or nephropathy. We herein investigated the effects of pharmacological Gal-3 inhibition by modified citrus pectin (MCP) in renal damage in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs).
Methods and results: Gal-3 inhibition did not modify blood pressure levels in 30-week-old SHR. Kidney weight was higher in SHR, with no effect of MCP treatment (100 mg/kg/day in the drinking water). Plasma creatinine and albuminuria were slightly but significantly increased in SHR and reduced by MCP, as well as plasma and urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin. In kidney from SHR, Gal-3 was upregulated, as well as the fibrotic markers (collagen type I, TGF-β and connective tissue growth factor) and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. MCP treatment reduced Gal-3 levels and fibrosis. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) molecules (fibronectin, α-smooth muscle actin and β-catenin) were modified in SHR and normalized by Gal-3 inhibition. The inflammatory mediators (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, osteopontin, cd68, cd80, cd44 and cd45) were elevated in SHR and attenuated by MCP. Renal damage markers (neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and kidney injury molecule-1) were augmented in SHR and improved by MCP. In renal epithelial normal rat kidney-52E cells, Gal-3 treatment induced EMT markers, whereas Gal-3 silencing attenuated EMT.
Conclusion: Gal-3 inhibition attenuated early renal damage in SHR as indicated by reduced albuminuria, improved renal function and decreased renal fibrosis, EMT and inflammation, independently of blood pressure levels. These data suggest that Gal-3 could be a potential therapeutic candidate for the prevention of early renal alterations in hypertension.