Aldosterone (Aldo) can be a profibrotic factor in cardiovascular and renal tissues. This study tests the hypothesis that prolonged Aldo exposure is able to directly induce fibrotic changes in the kidney of a normal nonhypertensive animal. Immortalized rat proximal tubule cells (IRPTC) containing 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD1) but no mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) and mouse inner medullary collecting duct cells (IMCD) containing 11β-HSD2 and MR were examined. IRPTC exposed to Aldo or corticosterone (10 nM) for 48 h demonstrated no change in collagen production as assessed by Sirius red staining. In contrast, IMCD treated with Aldo exhibited a marked increase in the expression of collagen, fibronectin, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), whereas corticosterone alone had no effect. The Aldo-induced overexperession of collagen, fibronectin, and CTGF was substantially attenuated by the MR antagonist RU-318 and by the 11β-HSD end product 11-dehydrocorticosterone, but not by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486. In vivo, early fibrotic changes with elevated collagen, fibronectin, and CTGF expression were observed in kidneys isolated from normotensive adrenalectomized mice receiving a continuous infusion of Aldo (8 μg·kg−1·day−1) for 1 wk. These changes were not present in corticosterone-treated mice. Aldo-induced changes were attenuated in adrenally intact mice and in mice treated with RU-318 or 11-dehydrocorticosterone. Thus, extended Aldo exposure produces fibrotic changes in cells containing MR and in normal kidneys. MR antagonists and the end products of 11β-HSD attenuate these fibrogenic effects.
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