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Am J Med Sci. 2011 Feb;341(2):126-30. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e3181f6e3bf.

Environmental tobacco smoke furthers progression of diabetic nephropathy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.


Clinical studies suggest that smoking is a risk factor in the progression of chronic kidney disease, including diabetic nephropathy. The mechanisms involved are not completely understood. We have previously demonstrated that nicotine, one of the compounds present in large amounts in tobacco, promotes mesangial cell proliferation and fibronectin production. In this study, we hypothesized that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) promotes the progression of diabetic nephropathy by increasing the expression of profibrotic cytokines such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and the extracellular matrix proteins fibronectin and collagen IV. Six-week-old diabetic (db/db) mice were divided into 2 groups. The experimental group (n = 12) was exposed to ETS at a concentration of 30 mg/m for 6 hr/d, 5 d/wk for 8 weeks. The control group (n = 8) was exposed to room air. Urine was collected before euthanasia for albumin (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and creatinine measurements (mass spectrometry). After euthanasia, the kidneys were harvested for morphometric analysis and Western blot analysis. Serum was saved for cotinine measurements by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. ETS exposure resulted in serum levels of cotinine similar to those found in human smokers. ETS exposure for 8 weeks induced significant mesangial expansion (approximately 50% increase) that was accompanied by concomitant increases in TGF-β and fibronectin expression (approximately 20%). However, ETS did not modify results in significant changes in urinary albumin excretion. These studies demonstrate that ETS exposure worsens the progression of diabetic nephropathy by increasing the amount of mesangial expansion and that these effects are likely mediated by increased expression of profibrotic cytokines such as TGF-β.

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