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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Aug;22(8):1453-61. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2010080878. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

Calcium mediates glomerular filtration through calcineurin and mTORC2/Akt signaling.

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Endocrine and Renal Science, Genzyme Corporation, Framingham, MA 01701, USA.


Alterations to the structure of the glomerular filtration barrier lead to effacement of podocyte foot processes, leakage of albumin, and the development of proteinuria. To better understand the signaling pathways involved in the response of the glomerular filtration barrier to injury, we studied freshly isolated rat glomeruli, which allows for the monitoring and pharmacologic manipulation of early signaling events. Administration of protamine sulfate rapidly damaged the isolated glomeruli, resulting in foot process effacement and albumin leakage. Inhibition of calcium channels and chelation of extracellular calcium reduced protamine sulfate-induced damage, suggesting that calcium signaling plays a critical role in the initial stages of glomerular injury. Calcineurin inhibitors (FK506 and cyclosporine A) and the cathepsin L inhibitor E64 all inhibited protamine sulfate-mediated barrier changes, which suggests that calcium signaling acts, in part, through calcineurin- and cathepsin L-dependent cleavage of synaptopodin, a regulator of actin dynamics. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin also protected glomeruli, demonstrating that calcium signaling has additional calcineurin-independent components. Furthermore, activation of Akt through mTOR had a direct role on glomerular barrier integrity, and activation of calcium channels mediated this process, likely independent of phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Taken together, these results demonstrate the importance of calcium and related signaling pathways in the structure and function of the glomerular filtration barrier.

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