Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979)

Renin inhibition reverses renal disease in transgenic mice by shifting the balance between profibrotic and antifibrotic agents.

PMID 23438929


Aliskiren, a direct renin inhibitor, is a novel antihypertensive drug. To study whether aliskiren can reverse chronic kidney disease, we administered it to renin transgenic mice, a strain characterized by elevated blood pressure and a slow decline of renal function, mimicking well the progression of hypertensive chronic kidney disease. Ten-month-old transgenic mice were treated either with aliskiren or placebo for 28 days. Age-matched wild-type mice treated or not with aliskiren were considered as normotensive controls. Aliskiren reduced blood pressure to wild-type levels from as early as day 14. Proteinuria and cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis were also normalized. Renal interstitial fibrosis and inflammation were significantly ameliorated in aliskiren-treated mice (shown by the decrease of proinflammatory and profibrotic markers), and the phenotypes of tubular epithelial cells and podocytes were restored as evidenced by the reappearance of cellular proteins characteristic of normal phenotype of these cells. Profibrotic p38 and Erk mitogen-activated protein kinases were highly activated in placebo-treated transgenic animals. Aliskiren treatment cancelled this activation. This nephroprotection was not attributed to the antihypertensive activity of aliskiren, because blood pressure normalization after treatment with hydralazine failed to induce the regression of renal fibrosis. Direct inhibition of renin can restore renal function and structure in aged hypertensive animals with existing proteinuria. This finding suggests that, in addition to antihypertensive action, aliskiren can be also used to treat chronic kidney disease.