Renal fibrosis has no effective target for its prevention or reversal. Fibinogen-like protein 2 (Fgl2) is a novel prothrombinase exhibiting coagulation activity and immunomodulatory effects. Although Fgl2 is known to play a vital role in the development of liver and interstitial fibrosis, its function in renal fibrosis remains unclear. In this study, Fgl2 expression was found to be markedly increased in kidney tissues from mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO)-induced renal fibrosis and patients with chronic kidney disease. However, Fgl2 deficiency aggravated UUO-induced renal fibrosis, as evidenced by the significantly increasing collagen I, fibronectin, and α-SMA expression, extracellular matrix deposition, and profibrotic factor (TGF-β1) secretion. Administration of rmFgl2 (recombinant mouse Fgl2) significantly alleviated UUO-induced renal fibrosis in mice, suggesting that the increased fibrosis can be reversed by supplementing rmFgl2. Although there was no difference in the percentages of total macrophages between Fgl2+/+ and Fgl2-/- mice, Fgl2 deficiency remarkably facilitated M2 macrophage polarization and accelerated M1 macrophage polarization to a low degree, during UUO-induced renal fibrosis development in mice. Similar results were observed when Fgl2+/+ and Fgl2-/- mice bone marrow-derived macrophages were treated for M1 or M2 polarization. Moreover, Fgl2 deficiency significantly increased the phosphorylation of STAT6, a critical mediator of M2 polarization, in both UUO-induced fibrotic kidney tissues and bone marrow-derived M2 macrophages. In conclusion, the aggravation of renal fibrosis by Fgl2 deficiency is facilitated by the p-STAT6-dependent upregulation of macrophage polarization, especially of M2.
Keywords: Fgl2; Macrophage polarization; Renal fibrosis; STAT6.
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