Development of therapies to treat polycystic kidney disease

Stephanie Marge Flaig, Purdue University


Polycystic kidney diseases (PKD) are genetic disorders characterized by fluid filled cysts in the kidney tubules and liver bile ducts. There are two forms of PKD, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). The focus of the studies in this thesis has been on ADPKD. The disease progresses slowly and the fluid-filled cysts grow in size due to increased rates of cell proliferation and fluid secretion into the cyst lumen. The expanding cysts compromise the normal kidney function and result in a decrease of renal function to the point of end-stage renal failure in midlife. Cyst enlargement is due, at least in part, to chloride secretion via the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channel. Currently therapy is limited to renal cyst aspiration, dialysis, and eventually renal transplantation after organ failure, thus it has critical to determine possible drug therapies for the treatment of PKD. Previous studies showed that cyst fluid caused a secretory response in cells lining the cysts. We hypothesized that once the cyst have expanded and become so large that they burst or leak, which could also occur due to renal injury or aging, the cyst fluid may stimulate additional cyst growth. Lysophosphatidic Acid (LPA) was determined to be the active component of human cyst fluid, and we investigated the LPA stimulated signaling pathway. Our data suggest that the LPA stimulates chloride and fluid secretion by a combination of CFTR and Ca2+-activated chloride channels (CaCC) and that the two channels may functionally be linked to each other. The secretion is not occurring through a cAMP stimulated pathway, and it is possible that TMEM16A, a CaCC, plays a larger role than previously expected. Previous studies demonstrated that PPARγ agonists, insulin sensitizing drugs used to treat diabetes, inhibit chloride secretion by the collecting duct principal cells by decreasing CFTR synthesis. It was logical therefore to considered PPARγ agonists as long-term treatment for PKD. The first preclinical studied showed that high (20 mg/kg BW) dose pioglitazone, a PPARγ agonist, inhibited cyst growth in the PCK rat model, a slow progressing model, of PKD. To continue to look at the effects of the PPARγ agonists another preclinical study was completed, which tested if there was a class action of PPARγ agonists and if a lower dose was effective in treating the cystic burden. Using the PCK rat model, and another PPARγ agonist, rosiglitazone, a 24 week study was completed using 3 doses (4, 0.4, and 0.04 mg/kg BW). 4 mg/kg BW rosiglitazone is analogous to 20 mg/kg BW pioglitazone. The data indicated that the rosiglitazone is effective in lowering the cystic burden, and importantly the low dose proved to be effective. An additional rat model, the W-WPK rapidly progressing model was used to determine efficacy across multiple models, and to determine if there was a way to track the progress of the disease in a manner analogous to that used in human patients. The animals were treated with pioglitazone using 2 doses (2 and 20 mg/kg BW), and were imaged using CT scans to track the progress of the disease. The data suggest that pioglitazone was not as effective in the W-WPK rat model as it was the PCK rat model. There was a trend however, that low dose PPARγ agonist was as effective as high dose. Even more important, the CT scans proved to be an effective way to track the progress of the disease in animal models.




Blazer-Yost, Purdue University.

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