Nature communications

Endoplasmic reticulum stress drives proteinuria-induced kidney lesions via Lipocalin 2.

PMID 26787103


In chronic kidney disease (CKD), proteinuria results in severe tubulointerstitial lesions, which ultimately lead to end-stage renal disease. Here we identify 4-phenylbutyric acid (PBA), a chemical chaperone already used in humans, as a novel therapeutic strategy capable to counteract the toxic effect of proteinuria. Mechanistically, we show that albumin induces tubular unfolded protein response via cytosolic calcium rise, which leads to tubular apoptosis by Lipocalin 2 (LCN2) modulation through ATF4. Consistent with the key role of LCN2 in CKD progression, Lcn2 gene inactivation decreases ER stress-induced apoptosis, tubulointerstitial lesions and mortality in proteinuric mice. More importantly, the inhibition of this pathway by PBA protects kidneys from morphological and functional degradation in proteinuric mice. These results are relevant to human CKD, as LCN2 is increased in proteinuric patients. In conclusion, our study identifies a therapeutic strategy susceptible to improve the benefit of RAS inhibitors in proteinuria-induced CKD progression.