Kaempferol in ameliorating diabetes-induced fibrosis and renal damage: An in vitro and in vivo study in diabetic nephropathy mice model

Phytomedicine. 2020 May 16;76:153235. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2020.153235. Online ahead of print.


Background: Kaempferol is a natural polyflavonol that has gained considerable attention as antidiabetic therapeutics. Recent reports emphasize the role of hyperglycemia and RhoA/Rho Kinase activity in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy (DN). This study aims to evaluate the GLP-1 and insulin release along with RhoA/Rho Kinase inhibition pertaining to the anti-fibrotic and reno-protective effects of Kaempferol in DN.

Methods: The effect of Kaempferol on GLP-1 and insulin release along with underlying mechanisms (Ca2+ and cAMP levels) in GLUTag and MIN6 cells as well as in their co-culture has been evaluated. Further, the effect of Kaempferol on GLP-1 and insulin release was evaluated under in-vivo circumstances in the DN C57BL/6 mouse model. Histology and fibrosis specific staining was performed to study the renal injuries and fibrosis, while the expression of mRNA and protein of interest was evaluated by RT-PCR and western blot analysis.

Results: Kaempferol treatment promoted the GLP-1 and insulin release, which was accompanied by increased intracellular levels of cAMP and Ca2+ in GLUTag and MIN6 cells. In agreement with in vitro studies, Kaempferol also increased the release of GLP-1 and insulin in the DN mouse model. Notably, Kaempferol showed the potential to ameliorate the histological changes as well as renal fibrosis while decreasing the expression levels of DN markers including TGF-β1, CTGF, fibronectin, collagen IV, IL-1β, RhoA, ROCK2, and p-MYPT1 in DN kidney tissues. A rise in the expression of E-cadherin and nephrin was also noted in the same study.

Conclusion: This study establishes that Kaempferol ameliorates renal injury and fibrosis by enhancing the release of GLP-1, insulin, and inhibition of RhoA/Rho Kinase. This study recommends Kaempferol for further clinical trials to be developed as novel therapeutics for improving the renal function in DN patients.

Keywords: Diabetes; Glucagon-like Peptide-1; Insulin; Kaempferol; Renal damage.