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J Pathol. 2014 Dec;234(4):560-72. doi: 10.1002/path.4420. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Klotho suppresses renal tubulo-interstitial fibrosis by controlling basic fibroblast growth factor-2 signalling.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology, Institute of Nephrology of Chongqing and Kidney Centre of PLA, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, People's Republic of China.


Increased basic fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) and reduced Klotho have both been reported to be closely associated with renal fibrosis. However, the relationship between Klotho and FGF2 remains unclear. We demonstrate that FGF2 induced tubulo-epithelial plasticity in cultured HK-2 cells, accompanied by a reduction in Klotho expression, whereas recombinant Klotho protein could inhibit the action of FGF2. The FGF2 effects required extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 activation, which was suppressed by Klotho. Moreover, Klotho also restrained FGF2-induced fibroblast proliferation and activation. The inhibitory effect of Klotho on the activity of FGF2 was likely due to its potent ability to compete with FGF2 binding to FGF receptor 1. Unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO)-induced renal fibrosis was associated with an increase in FGF2 and a reduction in Klotho expression in wild-type mice, whereas FGF2(-/-) mice largely preserved Klotho expression and developed only mild renal fibrosis after obstructive injury. Furthermore, administration of Klotho protein in UUO mice significantly reduced renal fibrosis, concomitant with a marked suppression of FGF2 production and signalling. These studies demonstrate a feedback loop between Klotho depletion and FGF2 activation in renal fibrosis. Our results also suggest that Klotho treatment reduces renal fibrosis, at least in part, by inhibiting FGF2 signalling.

Copyright © 2014 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


FGF2; Klotho; renal fibrosis; tubulo-epithelial plasticity; unilateral ureteral obstruction

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