Intervention in growth factor activated signaling pathways by renally targeted kinase inhibitors

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Cell-specific targeting to renal tubular cells is an interesting approach to enhance the accumulation of drugs in the kidney. Low molecular weight proteins are rapidly filtered and extensively accumulate in proximal tubular cells. We therefore have used lysozyme (LZM, 14 kDa) as a tubular cell-specific carrier for the delivery of kinase inhibitors. Two different kinase inhibitors (LY364947 and erlotinib, directed to either the TGF-β receptor kinase or the EGF receptor) were individually conjugated to LZM via a novel platinum-based linker (Universal Linkage System; ULS). The cellular handling and pharmacological efficacy of the conjugates were evaluated in cultured proximal tubular cells (HK-2 cells). Both conjugates were efficiently internalized via endocytosis. TGF-β or EGF activated HK-2 cells showed a strong activation of the studied kinases and the conjugates inhibited these events, as was demonstrated by Western blotting of phosphorylated downstream mediators and quantitative gene expression analysis. In conclusion, we have developed tubular cell-specific kinase inhibitor–LZM conjugates via a novel linker strategy, which both showed to be effective in vitro. Future in vivo studies should show their potential for the treatment of renal diseases.

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