Lithium (Li) is the mainstay pharmacotherapeutic mood stabilizer in bipolar disorder. Its efficacious use is complicated by acute and chronic renal side effects, including nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) and progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD). The nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway senses and coordinates cellular responses to oxidative and electrophilic stress. Here, we identify that graded genetic activation of Nrf2 protects against Li-induced NDI (Li-NDI) and volume wasting via an aquaporin 2–independent mechanism. Renal Nrf2 activity is differentially expressed on functional segments of the nephron, and its activation along the distal tubule and collecting duct directly modulates ion transporter expression, mimicking paradoxical effects of diuretics in mitigating Li-NDI. In addition, Nrf2 reduces cyclooxygenase expression and vasoactive prostaglandin biosynthesis. Pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 confers protective effects, confirming this pathway as a potentially novel druggable target for the prevention of acute and chronic renal sequelae of Li therapy.
Soma Jobbagy, Dario A. Vitturi, Sonia R. Salvatore, Maria F. Pires, Pascal Rowart, David R. Emlet, Mark Ross, Scott Hahn, Claudette St. Croix, Stacy G. Wendell, Arohan R. Subramanya, Adam C. Straub, Roderick J. Tan, Francisco J. Schopfer