High-molecular weight hyaluronan attenuates tubulointerstitial scarring in kidney injury

JCI Insight. 2020 Jun 18;5(12):e136345. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.136345.


Renal fibrosis features exaggerated inflammation, extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and peritubular capillary loss. We previously showed that IL-10 stimulates high-molecular weight hyaluronan (HMW-HA) expression by fibroblasts, and we hypothesize that HMW-HA attenuates renal fibrosis by reducing inflammation and ECM remodeling. We studied the effects of IL-10 overexpression on HA production and scarring in mouse models of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) and ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) to investigate whether IL-10 antifibrotic effects are HA dependent. C57BL/6J mice were fed with the HA synthesis inhibitor, 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU), before UUO. We observed that in vivo injury increased intratubular spaces, ECM deposition, and HA expression at day 7 and onward. IL-10 overexpression reduced renal fibrosis in both models, promoted HMW-HA synthesis and stability in UUO, and regulated cell proliferation in I/R. 4-MU inhibited IL-10-driven antifibrotic effects, indicating that HMW-HA is necessary for cytokine-mediated reduction of fibrosis. We also found that IL-10 induces in vitro HMW-HA production by renal fibroblasts via STAT3-dependent upregulation of HA synthase 2. We propose that IL-10-induced HMW-HA synthesis plays cytoprotective and antifibrotic roles in kidney injury, thereby revealing an effective strategy to attenuate renal fibrosis in obstructive and ischemic pathologies.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Extracellular matrix; Fibrosis; Nephrology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural