Adiponectin protects obesity-related glomerulopathy by inhibiting ROS/NF-κB/NLRP3 inflammation pathway

BMC Nephrol. 2021 Jun 10;22(1):218. doi: 10.1186/s12882-021-02391-1.


Background: Adiponectin is an adipocytokine that plays a key regulatory role in glucose and lipid metabolism in obesity. The prevalence of obesity has led to an increase in the incidence of obesity-related glomerulopathy (ORG). This study aimed to identify the protective role of adiponectin in ORG.

Methods: Small-interfering RNA (siRNA) against the gene encoding adiponectin was transfected into podocytes. The oxidative stress level was determined using a fluorometric assay. Apoptosis was analyzed by flow cytometry. The expressions of podocyte markers and pyrin domain containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome-related proteins were measured by qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot.

Results: Podocytes treated with palmitic acid (PA) showed downregulated expressions of podocyte markers, increased apoptosis, upregulated levels of NLRP3 inflammasome-related proteins, increased production of inflammatory cytokines (IL-18 and IL-1β), and induced activation of NF-κB as compared to the vehicle-treated controls. Decreased adiponectin expression was observed in the serum samples from high fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Decreased podocin expression and upregulated NLRP3 expression were observed in the kidney samples from high fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Treatment with adiponectin or the NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor, MCC950, protected cultured podocytes against podocyte apoptosis and inflammation. Treatment with adiponectin protected mouse kidney tissues against decreased podocin expression and upregulated NLRP3 expression. The knockout of adiponectin gene by siRNA increased ROS production, resulting in the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome and the phosphorylation of NF-κB in podocytes. Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, an NF-κB inhibitor, prevented adiponectin from ameliorating FFA-induced podocyte injury and NLRP3 activation.

Conclusions: Our study showed that adiponectin ameliorated PA-induced podocyte injury in vitro and HFD-induced injury in vivo via inhibiting the ROS/NF-κB/NLRP3 pathway. These data suggest the potential use of adiponectin for the prevention and treatment of ORG.

Keywords: Adiponectin; NF-κB; NLRP3 inflammation; Obesity-related glomerulopathy; ROS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / pharmacology*
  • Adiponectin / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • Glomerulonephritis / physiopathology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Obese
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Podocytes / metabolism
  • Podocytes / pathology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Adiponectin
  • Inflammasomes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Nlrp3 protein, mouse
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Romo1 protein, mouse