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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019 Feb 8. pii: ASN.2018060625. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2018060625. [Epub ahead of print]

Treatment with 2,4-Dihydroxybenzoic Acid Prevents FSGS Progression and Renal Fibrosis in Podocyte-Specific Coq6 Knockout Mice.

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Division of Nephrology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Medicine IV, Medical Center-University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and
Division of Nephrology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts;



Although studies have identified >55 genes as causing steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) and localized its pathogenesis to glomerular podocytes, the disease mechanisms of SRNS remain largely enigmatic. We recently reported that individuals with mutations in COQ6, a coenzyme Q (also called CoQ10, CoQ, or ubiquinone) biosynthesis pathway enzyme, develop SRNS with sensorineural deafness, and demonstrated the beneficial effect of CoQ for maintenace of kidney function.


To study COQ6 function in podocytes, we generated a podocyte-specific Coq6 knockout mouse (Coq6podKO ) model and a transient siRNA-based COQ6 knockdown in a human podocyte cell line. Mice were monitored for development of proteinuria and assessed for development of glomerular sclerosis. Using a podocyte migration assay, we compared motility in COQ6 knockdown podocytes and control podocytes. We also randomly assigned 5-month-old Coq6podKO mice and controls to receive no treatment or 2,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4-diHB), an analog of a CoQ precursor molecule that is classified as a food additive by health authorities in Europe and the United States.


Abrogation of Coq6 in mouse podocytes caused FSGS and proteinuria (>46-fold increases in albuminuria). In vitro studies revealed an impaired podocyte migration rate in COQ6 knockdown human podocytes. Treating Coq6podKO mice or cells with 2,4-diHB prevented renal dysfunction and reversed podocyte migration rate impairment. Survival of Coq6podKO mice given 2,4diHB was comparable to that of control mice and significantly higher than that of untreated Coq6podKO mice, half of which died by 10 months of age.


These findings reveal a potential novel treatment strategy for those cases of human nephrotic syndrome that are caused by a primary dysfunction in the CoQ10 biosynthesis pathway.


focal segmental glomerulosclerosis; nephrotic syndrome; podocyte


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