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Once daily administration of the SGLT2 inhibitor, empagliflozin, attenuates markers of renal fibrosis without improving albuminuria in diabetic db/db mice

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Blood glucose control is the primary strategy to prevent complications in diabetes. At the onset of kidney disease, therapies that inhibit components of the renin angiotensin system (RAS) are also indicated, but these approaches are not wholly effective. Here, we show that once daily administration of the novel glucose lowering agent, empagliflozin, an SGLT2 inhibitor which targets the kidney to block glucose reabsorption, has the potential to improve kidney disease in type 2 diabetes. In male db/db mice, a 10-week treatment with empagliflozin attenuated the diabetes-induced upregulation of profibrotic gene markers, fibronectin and transforming-growth-factor-beta. Other molecular (collagen IV and connective tissue growth factor) and histological (tubulointerstitial total collagen and glomerular collagen IV accumulation) benefits were seen upon dual therapy with metformin. Albuminuria, urinary markers of tubule damage (kidney injury molecule-1, KIM-1 and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, NGAL), kidney growth, and glomerulosclerosis, however, were not improved with empagliflozin or metformin, and plasma and intra-renal renin activity was enhanced with empagliflozin. In this model, blood glucose lowering with empagliflozin attenuated some molecular and histological markers of fibrosis but, as per treatment with metformin, did not provide complete renoprotection. Further research to refine the treatment regimen in type 2 diabetes and nephropathy is warranted.

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