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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2014 Feb;29 Suppl 1:i19-i24. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gft224. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

The Nrf2 pathway in the progression of renal disease.

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IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso, Bergamo, Italy.


The Nrf2/Keap1 system regulates the transcription of antioxidant and cytoprotective genes through direct Nrf2 binding to responsive elements in the promoter region of target genes or via Keap1-induced NF-kB inhibition. The association between oxidative stress and inflammation with progression of chronic kidney diseases (CKDs) directed attention towards bardoxolone methyl and its analogues, potent Nrf2/Keap1 inducers, as a potential modality of renoprotective intervention. In a phase II clinical trial (BEAM), bardoxolone methyl was shown to increase the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in patients with CKD associated with type 2 diabetes. The study generated great interest but raised concerns as well, on the adverse event profile of the drug. Experiments in rats with type 2 diabetic nephropathy treated with bardoxolone methyl analogues reproduced some drawbacks of bardoxolone methyl therapy in humans. Despite these warnings, a long-term phase III trial (BEACON) was started that was prematurely terminated because of an excess serious adverse events and mortality. Lessons from the above studies suggest that before jumping into use in clinical practice, adequately designed experiments in animal models are needed to provide insights into pathogenetic mechanisms as well as unexpected side effects.


Keap1; bardoxolone; diabetic nephropathy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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