Albumin stimulates renal tubular inflammation through an HSP70-TLR4 axis in mice with early diabetic nephropathy

Huei Fen Jheng, Pei Jane Tsai, Yi Lun Chuang, Yi Ting Shen, Ting An Tai, Wen Chung Chen, Chuan Kai Chou, Li Chun Ho, Ming Jer Tang, Kuei Tai A. Lai, Junne Ming Sung, Yau Sheng Tsai

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Increased urinary albumin excretion is not simply an aftermath of glomerular injury, but is also involved in the progression of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Whereas Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are incriminated in the renal inflammation of DN, whether and how albuminis involved in the TLR-related renal inflammatory response remains to be clarified. Here, we showed that both TLR2 and TLR4, one of their putative endogenous ligands [heat shock protein 70 (HSP70)] and nuclear factor-κB promoter activity were markedly elevated in the kidneys of diabetic mice. A deficiency of TLR4 but not of TLR2 alleviated albuminuria, tubulointerstitial fibrosis and inflammation induced by diabetes. The protection against renal injuryindiabetic Tlr4-/-micewas associated with reduced tubular injuries and preserved cubilin levels, rather than amelioration of glomerular lesions. In vitro studies revealed that albumin, a stronger inducer than high glucose (HG), induced the release of HSP70 from proximal tubular cells. HSP70 blockade ameliorated albumin-induced inflammatory mediators. HSP70 triggered the production of inflammatory mediators in a TLR4-dependent manner. Moreover, HSP70 inhibition in vivo ameliorated diabetes-induced albuminuria, inflammatory response and tubular injury. Finally, we found that individuals with DN had higher levels of TLR4 and HSP70 in the dilated tubules than non-diabetic controls. Thus, activation of the HSP70-TLR4 axis, stimulated at least in part by albumin, in the tubular cell is a newly identified mechanism associated with induction of tubulointerstitial inflammation and aggravation of preexisting microalbuminuria in the progression of DN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1321
Number of pages11
JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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