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Clin Exp Nephrol. 2012 Aug;16(4):549-56. doi: 10.1007/s10157-012-0609-3. Epub 2012 Feb 18.

Use of xanthine oxidase inhibitor febuxostat inhibits renal interstitial inflammation and fibrosis in unilateral ureteral obstructive nephropathy.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine and Nephrology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.



Renal interstitial fibrosis is the common pathway in progressive renal diseases, where oxidative stress promotes inflammation and macrophage infiltration. Febuxostat is a novel nonpurine xanthine oxidase (XO)-specific inhibitor for treating hyperuricemia. While some reports suggest a relationship between hyperuricemia and chronic kidney disease (CKD), the renoprotective mechanism of an XO inhibitor in CKD remains unknown. Recent reports have focused on XO as a source of oxidative stress.


Here, we investigate the potential of febuxostat to reduce fibrogenic and inflammatory responses in an established interstitial fibrosis model-unilateral ureteric obstruction (UUO). Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups: sham-operated group, vehicle-treated UUO group, and febuxostat-treated UUO group.


Treatment with febuxostat diminished XO activity in obstructed kidneys, and suppressed nitrotyrosine, a marker of oxidative stress. Consequently, febuxostat inhibited early proinflammatory cytokine expression, followed by a reduction of interstitial macrophage infiltration. In addition, febuxostat suppressed transforming growth factor-β messenger RNA expression, thereby ameliorating smooth muscle alpha actin and type I collagen expression.


Our results provide evidence for the renoprotective action of febuxostat against the formation of interstitial fibrosis. A decrease in macrophage infiltration and interstitial fibrosis, along with a decrease of the oxidative stress marker, strongly suggests the existence of a causal relationship between them. Febuxostat may have therapeutic value in slowing or preventing interstitial fibrosis in patients with CKD.

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