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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Oct;26(10):2423-33. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2014030230. Epub 2015 Feb 2.

NH4Cl Treatment Prevents Tissue Calcification in Klotho Deficiency.

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Departments of Physiology.
Internal Medicine, and.
Pathology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany; and.
Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
Departments of Physiology,


Klotho, a cofactor in suppressing 1,25(OH)2D3 formation, is a powerful regulator of mineral metabolism. Klotho-hypomorphic mice (kl/kl) exhibit excessive plasma 1,25(OH)2D3, Ca(2+), and phosphate concentrations, severe tissue calcification, volume depletion with hyperaldosteronism, and early death. Calcification is paralleled by overexpression of osteoinductive transcription factor Runx2/Cbfa1, Alpl, and senescence-associated molecules Tgfb1, Pai-1, p21, and Glb1. Here, we show that NH4Cl treatment in drinking water (0.28 M) prevented soft tissue and vascular calcification and increased the life span of kl/kl mice >12-fold in males and >4-fold in females without significantly affecting extracellular pH or plasma concentrations of 1,25(OH)2D3, Ca(2+), and phosphate. NH4Cl treatment significantly decreased plasma aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone concentrations and reversed the increase of Runx2/Cbfa1, Alpl, Tgfb1, Pai-1, p21, and Glb1 expression in aorta of kl/kl mice. Similarly, in primary human aortic smooth muscle cells (HAoSMCs), NH4Cl treatment reduced phosphate-induced mRNA expression of RUNX2/CBFA1, ALPL, and senescence-associated molecules. In both kl/kl mice and phosphate-treated HAoSMCs, levels of osmosensitive transcription factor NFAT5 and NFAT5-downstream mediator SOX9 were higher than in controls and decreased after NH4Cl treatment. Overexpression of NFAT5 in HAoSMCs mimicked the effect of phosphate and abrogated the effect of NH4Cl on SOX9, RUNX2/CBFA1, and ALPL mRNA expression. TGFB1 treatment of HAoSMCs upregulated NFAT5 expression and prevented the decrease of phosphate-induced NFAT5 expression after NH4Cl treatment. In conclusion, NH4Cl treatment prevents tissue calcification, reduces vascular senescence, and extends survival of klotho-hypomorphic mice. The effects of NH4Cl on vascular osteoinduction involve decrease of TGFB1 and inhibition of NFAT5-dependent osteochondrogenic signaling.


CKD; aldosterone; mineral metabolism; vascular calcification

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