Purpose of review: Excessive production of fibrosis is a feature of hypertension-induced renal injury. Activation of RhoA/Rho-kinase (ROCK) axis has been shown in deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt hypertensive rats. We assessed whether selective endothelin receptor blockers can attenuate renal fibrosis by inhibiting RhoA/ROCK axis in DOCA-salt rats.
Methods: At 4 weeks after the start of DOCA-salt treatment and uninephrectomization, male Wistar rats were randomized into three groups for 4 weeks: vehicle, ABT-627 (endothelin-A receptor inhibitor) and A192621 (endothelin-B receptor inhibitor).
Results: DOCA-salt was characterized by increased blood pressure, decreased renal function, increased proteinuria, increased glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis with myofibroblast accumulation, increased renal endothelin-1 levels and RhoA activity along with increased expression of connective tissue growth factor at both mRNA and protein levels as compared with uninephrectomized control male Wistar rats. Treatment with a selective mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, eplerenone, ameliorated proteinuria. Impaired renal function and histological changes were overcome by treatment with ABT-627, but not with A192621. The beneficial effects of bosentan, a nonspecific endothelin receptor blocker, on proteinuria, RhoA activity, and connective tissue growth factor levels were similar to ABT-627. Furthermore, in an isolated perfuse kidney, a RhoA inhibitor, C3 exoenzyme, and two ROCK inhibitors, fasudil and Y-27632, significantly attenuated connective tissue growth factor levels.
Conclusions: These results indicate that DOCA-salt elevates renal endothelin-1 levels and RhoA activity via activation of mineralocorticoid receptor, resulting in renal fibrosis and proteinuria. Endothelin-A receptor blockade can attenuate DOCA-salt-induced renal fibrosis probably through the inhibition of RhoA/ROCK activity and connective tissue growth factor expression.