Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) has been proved to play an important role in progressive glomerular disease of systemic lupus. The present study investigated the tyrosine kinase inhibitor of PDGF receptor, imatinib, as a novel therapeutic approach for the cure of lupus nephritis in New Zealand Black/White (NZB/W)F1 hybrid mice with established disease. Two groups of NZB/W mice (N = 30 each group), starting at 5 months of age, were given by gavage vehicle or imatinib (50 mg/kg b.i.d). Fifteen mice for each group were used for the survival study. The remaining were killed at 8 months. Imatinib significantly (P = 0.0022) ameliorated animal survival with respect to vehicle. The drug significantly delayed the onset of proteinuria (% proteinuric mice, 7 and 8 months: 33 and 47 vs vehicle, 80 and 87, P = 0.05) and limited the impairment of renal function. Imatinib protected the kidney against glomerular hypercellularity and deposits, tubulointerstitial damage, and accumulation of F4/80-positive mononuclear cells and α-smooth actin-positive myofibroblasts. The abnormal transforming growth factor-β mRNA expression in kidneys of lupus mice was reduced by imatinib. In conclusion, findings of amelioration of animal survival and renal manifestations in NZB/W lupus mice with established disease by imatinib suggests the possibility to explore whether imatinib may function as steroid-sparing drug in human lupus nephritis.
- Lupus nephritis
- NZB/W mice
- Platelet-derived growth factor
- Transforming growth factor
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