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Histochem Cell Biol. 2009 Aug;132(2):199-210. doi: 10.1007/s00418-009-0588-y. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

Doxycycline accelerates renal cyst growth and fibrosis in the pcy/pcy mouse model of type 3 nephronophthisis, a form of recessive polycystic kidney disease.

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Institute for Molecular and Cellular Anatomy, University of Regensburg, Universitätsstrasse 31, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.


Nephronophthisis belongs to a family of recessive cystic kidney diseases and may arise from mutations in multiple genes. In this report we have used a spontaneous mouse mutant of type 3 nephronophthisis to examine whether the doxycycline-inducible synthesis of Timp-2, a natural inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases, can influence renal cyst growth in transgenic mice. Metalloproteinases may exert either a negative or a positive effect on the progression of cystic kidney disease, and we reasoned that this may be most effectively examined by using a natural inhibitor. Surprisingly, already the application of doxycycline, which also inhibits matrix metalloproteinases, accelerated renal cyst growth and led to increased renal fibrosis, an additional effect of Timp-2 was not detected. The positive effect of doxycycline on kidney size was not due to a non-specific "anabolic effect" but was specific for cystic kidneys because it was not observed in non-cystic kidneys. When looking for potential metabolic changes we noticed that the urine of control animals led to an increase in the calcium response of LLC-PK(1) cells, whereas the urine of doxycycline-treated mice showed the opposite effect and even antagonized the urine of control animals. Further experiments demonstrated that the urine of control animals contained a heat-labile, proteinase K-resistant substance which appears to be responsible for the induction of a calcium response in LLC-PK(1) cells. We conclude that doxycycline accelerates cyst growth possibly by the induction of a substance which lowers the intracellular calcium concentration. Our data also add a note of caution when interpreting phenotypes of animal models based upon the tet system.

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