Sinomenine attenuates renal fibrosis through Nrf2-mediated inhibition of oxidative stress and TGFβ signaling

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Renal fibrosis is the common feature of chronic kidney disease and mainly mediated by TGFβ-associated pro-fibrogenic signaling, which causes excessive extracellular matrix accumulation and successive loss of kidney functions. Sinomenine (SIN), an alkaloid derived from medicinal herb extensively used in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and various inflammatory disorders, displays renal protective properties in experimental animals; however its pharmacological potency against renal fibrosis is not explored. In this study we report that SIN possesses strong anti-renal fibrosis functions in kidney cell and in mouse fibrotic kidney. SIN beneficially modulated the pro-fibrogenic protein expression in TGFβ-treated kidney cells and attenuated the renal fibrotic pathogenesis incurred by unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO), which correlated with its activation of Nrf2 signaling - the key defender against oxidative stress with anti-fibrotic potentials. Further investigation on its regulation of Nrf2 downstream events revealed that SIN significantly balanced oxidative stress via improving the expression and activity of anti-oxidant and detoxifying enzymes, and interrupted the pro-fibrogenic signaling of TGFβ/Smad and Wnt/β-catenin. Even more impressively SIN achieved its anti-fibrotic activities in an Nrf2-dependent manner, suggesting that SIN regulation of Nrf2-associated anti-fibrotic activities constitutes a critical component of SIN's renoprotective functions. Collectively our studies have demonstrated a novel anti-fibrotic property of SIN and its upstream events and provided a molecular basis for SIN's potential applications in treatment of renal fibrosis-associated kidney disorders.Graphical abstractHighlightsSinomenine has strong potency of inhibiting renal fibrosis in UUO mouse kidney.Sinomenine attenuates the expression of profibrogenic proteins.Sinomenine balances renal fibrosis-associated oxidative stress.Sinomenine mitigates profibrogenic signaling of TGBβ/Smad and Wnt/β-catenin.Sinomenine exerts anti-renal fibrotic functions mainly via activating Nrf2 pathways.

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