BACKGROUND - Sulodexide is a glycosaminoglycan with anticoagulant and antithrombotic activities. Although sulodexide reduced albuminuria in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, long-term effects on chronic renal injury are not established. We investigated sulodexide effects and mechanisms in a rat radiation nephropathy model and in the db/db mouse model of diabetic kidney disease.
METHODS - Sprague-Dawley rats received kidney radiation and were treated as follows: 15 mg/kg/day sulodexide s.c., 6 day/week (SUL) or no treatment (CONT). Subsets of animals were sacrificed after 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Blood pressure, serum creatinine, creatinine clearance (CrCl) and urinary protein excretion were measured every 4 weeks. Sclerosis and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) expression were assessed at 8 and 12 weeks, and collagen I, total collagen content and phospho-smad-2 expressions were determined at 12 weeks. Twelve-week-old db/db mice received sulodexide as above or vehicle. Albuminuria and CrCl were assessed at intervals till sacrifice at week 9 with assessment of urinary transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and glomerular lesions.
RESULTS - Blood pressure, serum creatinine and CrCl were not different in radiation rat CONT vs SUL at any time. Proteinuria was significantly lower in SUL compared to CONT at 4 and 8 weeks but not at 12 weeks. Sclerosis and PAI-1 expression trended lower in SUL vs CONT at 8 weeks. There was no difference between the groups in sclerosis, collagen I mRNA, total collagen content or PAI-1 expression at 12 weeks. Phospho-smad 2 expression was significantly decreased in SUL compared to CONT at 12 weeks. Db/db mice with or without SUL showed no difference in urinary albumin/creatinine ratio, urine TGF-beta or mesangial matrix expansion.
CONCLUSIONS - Our data show that sulodexide can reduce the early, but not late, proteinuria in radiation nephropathy in rats. In addition, sulodexide did not affect urine TGF-beta established albuminuria or mesangial matrix expansion in a chronic model of diabetic kidney disease in mice. Although sulodexide may affect TGF-beta activation in radiation nephropathy, this effect appeared insufficient in this model to inhibit the expressions of PAI-1 and collagen and reduce accumulation of extracellular matrix. These results may explain in part its lack of efficacy in recent clinical trials of chronic kidney disease.