Background: Clinical studies have shown that the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor antagonists decrease proteinuria and slow the progression of nephropathy in diabetes, indicating that Ang II plays an important role in the development of nephropathy. We have previously reported that high levels of glucose stimulate the expression of rat angiotensinogen (ANG) gene in opossum kidney (OK) proximal tubular cells. We hypothesized that the stimulatory effect of D(+)-glucose on the expression of the ANG gene in kidney proximal tubular cells is mediated via de novo synthesis of diacylglycerol (DAG) and the protein kinase C (PKC) signal transduction pathway.
Methods: Immortalized rat proximal tubular cells (IRPTCs) were cultured in monolayer. The stimulatory effect of glucose on the activation of polyol pathway and PKC signal transduction pathway in IRPTCs was determined. The immunoreactive rat ANG (IR-rANG) in the culture medium and the cellular ANG mRNA were measured with a specific radioimmunoassay and a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay, respectively.
Results: D(+)-glucose (25 mM) markedly increased the intracellular levels of sorbitol, fructose, DAG, and PKC activity as well as the expression of IR-rANG and ANG mRNA in IRPTCs. These stimulatory effects of D(+)-glucose (25 mM) were blocked by an inhibitor of aldose reductase, Tolrestat. PKC inhibitors also inhibited the stimulatory effect of D(+)-glucose (25 mM) on the expression of the IR-rANG in IRPTCs. The addition of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate further enhanced the stimulatory effect of D(+)-glucose (25 mM) on the expression of the IR-rANG in IRPTCs and blocked the inhibitory effect of Tolrestat.
Conclusion: These studies suggest that the stimulatory effect of a high level of D(+)-glucose (25 mM) on the expression of the ANG gene in IRPTCs is mediated, at least in part, via the de novo synthesis of DAG, an activator of PKC signal transduction pathway.