Endothelin (ET) receptor blockade delays the progression of diabetic nephropathy; however, the mechanism of this protection is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that ETA receptor blockade attenuates superoxide production and inflammation in the kidney of diabetic rats. Diabetes was induced by streptozotocin (diabetic rats with partial insulin replacement to maintain modest hyperglycemia [HG]), and sham rats received vehicle treatments. Some rats also received the ETA antagonist ABT-627 (sham+ABT and HG+ABT; 5 g/kg per d; n = 8 to 10/group). During the 10-wk study, urinary microalbumin was increased in HG rats, and this effect was prevented by ETA receptor blockade. Indices of oxidative stress, urinary excretion of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine, and H2O2 and plasma thiobarbituric acid reactive substances were significantly greater in HG rats than in sham rats. These effects were not prevented by ABT-627. In addition, renal cortical expression of 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine and NADPH oxidase subunits was not different between HG and HG+ABT rats. ETA receptor blockade attenuated increases in macrophage infiltration and urinary excretion of TGF-β and prostaglandin E2 metabolites in HG rats. Although ABT-627 did not alleviate oxidative stress in HG rats, inflammation and production of inflammatory mediators were reduced in association with prevention of microalbuminuria. These observations indicate that ETA receptor activation mediates renal inflammation and TGF-β production in diabetes and are consistent with the postulate that ETA blockade slows progression of diabetic nephropathy via an anti-inflammatory mechanism.
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