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Kidney Int. 1998 Nov;54(5):1570-80.

Targeting TGF-beta overexpression in renal disease: maximizing the antifibrotic action of angiotensin II blockade.

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Division of Nephrology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.



Overproduction of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is a key mediator of extracellular matrix accumulation in fibrotic diseases. We hypothesized that the degree of reduction of pathological TGF-beta expression can be used as a novel index of the antifibrotic potential of angiotensin II (Ang II) blockade in renal disease.


One day after induction of Thy 1.1 glomerulonephritis, rats were treated with increasing doses of the Ang I converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor enalapril and/or the Ang II receptor blocker losartan in the drinking water. Six days after disease induction the therapeutic effect on glomerular TGF-beta overexpression was evaluated.


Both enalapril and losartan reduced TGF-beta overproduction in a dose-dependent manner, showing a moderate reduction at doses known to control blood pressure in renal forms of hypertension. A maximal reduction in TGF-beta expression of approximately 45% was seen for both drugs starting at 100 mg/liter enalapril and 500 mg/liter losartan, with no further reduction at doses of enalapril up to 1000 mg/liter or losartan up to 2500 mg/liter. Co-treatment with both drugs was not superior to single therapy. Consistent with our hypothesis that reduction in TGF-beta expression is a valid target, other disease measures, including glomerular matrix accumulation, glomerular production and mRNA expression of the matrix protein fibronectin and the protease inhibitor plasminogen-activator-inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) closely followed TGF-beta expression.


The data suggest that these therapies act through very similar pathways and that, in order to more effectively treat renal fibrosis, these drugs must be combined with other drugs that act by different mechanisms.

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