Human podocytes (hPC) are essential for maintaining normal kidney function and dysfunction or loss of hPC play a pivotal role in the manifestation and progression of chronic kidney diseases including diabetic nephropathy. Previously, α-Lipoic acid (α-LA), a licensed drug for treatment of diabetic neuropathy, was shown to exhibit protective effects on diabetic nephropathy in vivo. However, the effect of α-LA on hPC under non-diabetic conditions is unknown. Therefore, we analyzed the impact of α-LA on cell viability and expression of nephrin and zinc finger protein 580 (ZNF580) in normal hPC in vitro.
Protein analyses were done via Western blot techniques. Cell viability was determined using a functional assay. hPC viability was dynamically modulated via α-LA stimulation in a concentration-dependent manner. This was associated with reduced nephrin and ZNF580 expression and increased nephrin phosphorylation in normal hPC. Moreover, α-LA reduced nephrin and ZNF580 protein expression via ‘kappa-light-chain-enhancer’ of activated B-cells (NF-κB) inhibition. These data demonstrate that low α-LA had no negative influence on hPC viability, whereas, high α-LA concentrations induced cytotoxic effects on normal hPC and reduced nephrin and ZNF580 expression via NF-κB inhibition. These data provide first novel information about potential cytotoxic effects of α-LA on hPC under non-diabetic conditions.