Aims/hypothesis: The selective CuII chelator triethylenetetramine (TETA) extracts systemic CuII into the urine of diabetic humans and rats as a model of diabetes, and in the process also normalises hallmarks of diabetic heart disease. However, the role of Cu and its response to TETA in animals with diabetic nephropathy were previously unknown. Here, we report the effects of TETA treatment on Cu and other essential elements, as well as on indices of renal injury and known pathogenic molecular processes, in kidneys from a rat model of diabetes. Methods: Rats at 8 weeks after streptozotocin-induction of diabetes were treated with oral TETA (34 mg/day in drinking water) for a further 8 weeks and then compared with untreated diabetic control animals. Results: Renal tissue Cu was substantively elevated by diabetes and normalised by TETA, which also suppressed whole-kidney and glomerular hypertrophy without lowering blood glucose. The urinary albumin: creatinine ratio was significantly elevated in the rat model of diabetes but lowered by TETA. Total collagen was also elevated in diabetic kidneys and significantly improved by TETA. Furthermore, renal cortex levels of TGF-β1, MAD homologue (SMAD) 4, phosphorylated SMAD2, fibronectin-1, collagen-III, collagen-IV, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase all tended to be elevated in diabetes and normalised by TETA. Conclusions/interpretation: Dysregulation of renal Cu homeostasis may be a key event eliciting development of diabetic nephropathy. Selective CuII chelation can protect against pathogenic mechanisms that lead to or cause diabetic nephropathy and might be clinically useful in the treatment of early-stage diabetic kidney disease. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.
- Diabetic nephropathy
- Divalent copper
- Extracellular matrix
- Glomerular hypertrophy
- Semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase