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Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2016 May;37(5):645-55. doi: 10.1038/aps.2015.159. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

Curcumin attenuates high glucose-induced podocyte apoptosis by regulating functional connections between caveolin-1 phosphorylation and ROS.

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Nephrology Research Institute of Shandong University, The Second Hospital of Shandong University, Shandong University, Ji-nan 250033, China.
Chinese Medicine Hospital of Linyi City, Linyi 273400, China.



Caveolin-1 (cav-1) is a major multifunctional scaffolding protein of caveolae. Cav-1 is primarily expressed in mesangial cells, renal proximal tubule cells and podocytes in kidneys. Recent evidence shows that the functional connections between cav-1 and ROS play a key role in many diseases. In this study we investigated whether regulating the functional connections between cav-1 and ROS in kidneys contributed to the beneficial effects of curcumin in treating diabetic nephropathy in vitro and in vivo.


Cultured mouse podocytes (mpc5) were incubated in a high glucose (HG, 30 mmol/L) medium for 24, 48 or 72 h. Male rats were injected with STZ (60 mg/kg, ip) to induce diabetes. ROS generation, SOD activity, MDA content and caspase-3 activity in the cultured cells and kidney cortex homogenate were determined. Apoptotic proteins and cav-1 phosphorylation were analyzed using Western blot analyses.


Incubation in HG-containing medium time-dependently increased ROS production, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and cav-1 phosphorylation in podocytes. Pretreatment with curcumin (1, 5, and 10 μmol/L) dose-dependently attenuated these abnormalities in HG-treated podocytes. Furthermore, in HG-containing medium, the podocytes transfected with a recombinant plasmid GFP-cav-1 Y14F (mutation at a cav-1 phosphorylation site) exhibited significantly decreased ROS production and apoptosis compared with the cells transfected with empty vector. In diabetic rats, administration of curcumin (100 or 200 mg/kg body weight per day, ig, for 8 weeks) not only significantly improved the renal function, but also suppressed ROS levels, oxidative stress, apoptosis and cav-1 phosphorylation in the kidneys.


Curcumin attenuates high glucose-induced podocyte apoptosis in vitro and diabetic nephropathy in vivo partly through regulating the functional connections between cav-1 phosphorylation and ROS.

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