Renal fibrosis features exaggerated inflammation, extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and peritubular capillary loss. We previously showed that IL-10 stimulates high–molecular weight hyaluronan (HMW-HA) expression by fibroblasts, and we hypothesize that HMW-HA attenuates renal fibrosis by reducing inflammation and ECM remodeling. We studied the effects of IL-10 overexpression on HA production and scarring in mouse models of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) and ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) to investigate whether IL-10 antifibrotic effects are HA dependent. C57BL/6J mice were fed with the HA synthesis inhibitor, 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU), before UUO. We observed that in vivo injury increased intratubular spaces, ECM deposition, and HA expression at day 7 and onward. IL-10 overexpression reduced renal fibrosis in both models, promoted HMW-HA synthesis and stability in UUO, and regulated cell proliferation in I/R. 4-MU inhibited IL-10–driven antifibrotic effects, indicating that HMW-HA is necessary for cytokine-mediated reduction of fibrosis. We also found that IL-10 induces in vitro HMW-HA production by renal fibroblasts via STAT3-dependent upregulation of HA synthase 2. We propose that IL-10–induced HMW-HA synthesis plays cytoprotective and antifibrotic roles in kidney injury, thereby revealing an effective strategy to attenuate renal fibrosis in obstructive and ischemic pathologies.
Xinyi Wang, Swathi Balaji, Emily H. Steen, Alexander J. Blum, Hui Li, Christina K. Chan, Scott R. Manson, Thomas C. Lu, Meredith M. Rae, Paul F. Austin, Thomas N. Wight, Paul L. Bollyky, Jizhong Cheng, Sundeep G. Keswani