Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(9):1235-1245. doi:10.7150/ijms.42603

Research Paper

Melatonin Protects Human Renal Proximal Tubule Epithelial Cells Against High Glucose-Mediated Fibrosis via the Cellular Prion Protein-TGF-β-Smad Signaling Axis

Yong-Seok Han1, Yeo Min Yoon1, Gyeongyun Go4, Jun Hee Lee2,3,4, Sang Hun Lee1,4✉

1. Medical Science Research Institute, Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital, Seoul 04401, Republic of Korea.
2. Institute of Tissue Regeneration Engineering (ITREN), Dankook University, Cheonan 31116, Republic of Korea.
3. College of Science and Technology, Dankook University, Cheonan 31116, Republic of Korea.
4. Department of Biochemistry, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Cheonan 31151, Republic of Korea

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Citation:
Han YS, Yoon YM, Go G, Lee JH, Lee SH. Melatonin Protects Human Renal Proximal Tubule Epithelial Cells Against High Glucose-Mediated Fibrosis via the Cellular Prion Protein-TGF-β-Smad Signaling Axis. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(9):1235-1245. doi:10.7150/ijms.42603. Available from http://www.medsci.org/v17p1235.htm

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Abstract

Diabetes-mediated hyperglycemia is a major risk factor for renal fibrosis, resulting in the development of chronic kidney diseases. To address this issue, the effect of melatonin, which has an antioxidative potential, on renal fibrosis in human renal proximal tubule epithelial cells under high glucose conditions was investigated. Under high glucose conditions, the generation of reactive oxygen species was drastically increased in human renal proximal tubule epithelial cells, which lead to the inhibition of cell proliferation, enlargement of cell size, reduction of cell survival, and suppression of antioxidant enzyme activities. High glucose also increased the expression of transforming growth factor-β, leading to an increase in Smad2 phosphorylation. These fibrotic phenotype changes increased the expression of fibrosis-mediated extracellular matrix proteins, such as fibronectin, collagen I, and α-smooth muscle actin. In addition, the level of cellular prion protein (PrPC), which is associated with several biological processes, was decreased by exposure to high glucose conditions. Melatonin recovered the expression levels of PrPC under high glucose conditions via phosphorylation of Akt, resulting in the prevention of high glucose-induced fibrosis. In particular, overexpression of PrPC blocked the high glucose-mediated fibrotic phenotype change. These findings indicate that melatonin could be a powerful agent for treating hyperglycemia-induced renal fibrosis.

Keywords: high glucose, fibrosis, melatonin, cellular prion protein, renal proximal tubule epithelial cells