Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors have pleiotropic properties beyond blood glucose–lowering effects and modify important nonglycemic pathways, leading to end-organ protection. SGLT2 inhibitors display renoprotective effects in diabetic kidney disease, which creates a rationale for testing the therapeutic potential of this drug class in nondiabetic chronic kidney disease. Here, we have shown that dapagliflozin provided glomerular protection in mice with protein-overload proteinuria induced by bovine serum albumin (BSA), to a similar extent as an ACE inhibitor used as standard therapy for comparison. Dapagliflozin limited proteinuria, glomerular lesions, and podocyte dysfunction and loss. We provide the observation that SGLT2 was expressed in podocytes and upregulated after BSA injections. Through in vitro studies with cultured podocytes loaded with albumin we have identified what we believe to be a novel mechanism of action for SGLT2 inhibitor that directly targets podocytes and relies on the maintenance of actin cytoskeleton architecture. Whether SGLT2 inhibitors represent a possible future therapeutic option for some patients with proteinuric glomerular disease who do not have as yet an effective treatment will require ad hoc clinical studies.
Paola Cassis, Monica Locatelli, Domenico Cerullo, Daniela Corna, Simona Buelli, Cristina Zanchi, Sebastian Villa, Marina Morigi, Giuseppe Remuzzi, Ariela Benigni, Carlamaria Zoja