Empagliflozin reduces high glucose-induced oxidative stress and miR-21-dependent TRAF3IP2 induction and RECK suppression, and inhibits human renal proximal tubular epithelial cell migration and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

Nitin A. Das, Andrea J. Carpenter, Anthony Belenchia, Annayya R. Aroor, Makoto Noda, Ulrich Siebenlist, Bysani Chandrasekar, Vincent G. DeMarco

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1 Scopus citations


Proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) in the S1 segment of the kidney abundantly express sodium-glucose co-transporters (SGLT) that play a critical role in whole body glucose homeostasis. We recently reported suppression of RECK (Reversion Inducing Cysteine Rich Protein with Kazal Motifs), a membrane anchored endogenous MMP inhibitor and anti-fibrotic mediator, in the kidneys of db/db mice, a model of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), as well as in high glucose (HG) treated human kidney proximal tubule cells (HK−2). We further demonstrated that empagliflozin (EMPA), an SGLT2 inhibitor, reversed these effects. Little is known regarding the mechanisms underlying RECK suppression under hyperglycemic conditions, and its rescue by EMPA. Consistent with our previous studies, HG (25 mM) suppressed RECK expression in HK-2 cells. Further mechanistic investigations revealed that HG induced superoxide and hydrogen peroxide generation, oxidative stress-dependent TRAF3IP2 upregulation, NF-κB and p38 MAPK activation, inflammatory cytokine expression (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and MCP-1), miR-21 induction, MMP2 activation, and RECK suppression. Moreover, RECK gain-of-function inhibited HG-induced MMP2 activation and HK-2 cell migration. Similar to HG, advanced glycation end products (AGE) induced TRAF3IP2 and suppressed RECK, effects that were inhibited by EMPA. Importantly, EMPA treatment ameliorated all of these deleterious effects, and inhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and HK-2 cell migration. Collectively, these findings indicate that hyperglycemia and associated AGE suppress RECK expression via oxidative stress/TRAF3IP2/NF-κB and p38 MAPK/miR-21 induction. Furthermore, these results suggest that interventions aimed at restoring RECK or inhibiting SGLT2 have the potential to treat kidney inflammatory response/fibrosis and nephropathy under chronic hyperglycemic conditions, such as DKD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109506
JournalCellular Signalling
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020



  • Diabetic kidney disease
  • Fibrosis
  • Inflammation
  • SGLT2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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