The glomerular endothelial glycocalyx (GEnGlx) forms the first part of the glomerular filtration barrier. Previously, we showed that mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) activation caused GEnGlx damage and albuminuria. In this study, we investigated whether MR antagonism could limit albuminuria in diabetes and studied the site of action. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic Wistar rats developed albuminuria, increased glomerular albumin permeability (Ps’alb), and increased glomerular matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity with corresponding GEnGlx loss. MR antagonism prevented albuminuria progression, restored Ps’alb, preserved GEnGlx, and reduced MMP activity. Enzymatic degradation of the GEnGlx negated the benefits of MR antagonism, confirming their dependence on GEnGlx integrity. Exposing human glomerular endothelial cells (GEnC) to diabetic conditions in vitro increased MMPs and caused glycocalyx damage. Amelioration of these effects confirmed a direct effect of MR antagonism on GEnC. To confirm relevance to human disease, we used a potentially novel confocal imaging method to show loss of GEnGlx in renal biopsy specimens from patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN). In addition, patients with DN randomized to receive an MR antagonist had reduced urinary MMP2 activity and albuminuria compared with placebo and baseline levels. Taken together, our work suggests that MR antagonists reduce MMP activity and thereby preserve GEnGlx, resulting in reduced glomerular permeability and albuminuria in diabetes.
Michael Crompton, Joanne K. Ferguson, Raina D. Ramnath, Karen L. Onions, Anna S. Ogier, Monica Gamez, Colin J. Down, Laura Skinner, Kitty H. Wong, Lauren K. Dixon, Judit Sutak, Steven J. Harper, Paola Pontrelli, Loreto Gesualdo, Hiddo L. Heerspink, Robert D. Toto, Gavin I. Welsh, Rebecca R. Foster, Simon C. Satchell, Matthew J. Butler