Renal anti-fibrotic effect of sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibition in angiotensin II-dependent hypertension

Giovanna Castoldi, Raffaella Carletti, Silvia Ippolito, Massimiliano Colzani, Francesca Barzaghi, Andrea Stella, Gianpaolo Zerbini, Gianluca Perseghin, Cira R.T. Di Gioia

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Background: Clinical trials have shown that empagliflozin (Empa), a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor, promotes nephroprotective effects in diabetic patients. The mechanisms underlying nephroprotection are not completely known and it is not known whether the renal beneficial action is present even in non-diabetic kidney disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Empa administration on the development of renal fibrosis in an experimental model of angiotensin II (Ang II)-dependent hypertension. Methods: Sprague Dawley rats (n = 31) were divided into 4 experimental groups. Ang II (200 ng/kg/min, osmotic minipumps, s.c., n = 9) or Ang II + Empa (10 mg/kg/day, per os, n = 10) were administered for 2 weeks. Control rats were treated with placebo (physiological saline, n = 6), and another group was treated with placebo plus Empa (n = 6) for the same period. Blood pressure (plethysmographic method) was measured at the beginning and at the end of the experimental protocol. After 2 weeks, the rats were euthanized and the kidneys were excised for histomorphometric evaluation of glomerular and tubulo-interstitial fibrosis and for the immunohistochemical evaluation of inflammatory infiltrates (monocytes/macrophages) and types I and IV collagen expression. Results: The administration of Ang II resulted in an increase in blood pressure (p < 0.01), glomerular (p < 0.05) and tubulo-interstitial (p < 0.01) fibrosis, renal inflammatory infiltrates (p < 0.01) and type I (p < 0.01) and type IV collagen expression (p < 0.05) compared to the control group. Treatment with Empa did not significantly modify the increase in blood pressure due to Ang II, but prevented the development of renal glomerular and tubulo-interstitial fibrosis, and the increase in inflammatory infiltrates and types I and IV collagen expression in Ang II-treated rats (p < 0.01). Conclusions: These data demonstrate that the treatment with Empa prevents the development of renal fibrosis in Ang II-dependent hypertension. In Ang II-dependent hypertension, the anti-fibrotic effect due to SGLT2 inhibition is caused by the reduction of inflammatory infiltrates and it is independent on the modulation of blood pressure increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Nephrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Angiotensin II
  • Hypertension
  • Rats
  • Renal fibrosis
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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