Pathogenesis of cyclosporine nephropathy: Roles of angiotensin II and osteopontin

Raimund H. Pichler, Nora Franceschini, Bessie A. Young, Christian Hugo, Takeshi F. Andoh, Emmanuel A. Burdmann, Stuart J. Shankland, Charles E. Alpers, William M. Bennett, William G. Couser, Richard J. Johnson

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247 Scopus citations


Low-salt-diet, cyclosporine (CsA; 15 mg/kg per day)-treated rats develop striped interstitial fibrosis, arteriolar hyalinosis, and azotemia similar to the chronic nephropathy observed in humans. To examine the role of angiotensin II in this model, rats on a low-salt diet were given CsA, CsA and the angiotensin II receptor Type I antagonist losartan (10 mg/kg per day), CsA and hydralazine/furosemide, or vehicle. At Day 35, CsA-treated rats had tubular injury, arteriolopathy of the afferent arteriole, increased expression of the monocyte-macrophage adhesive protein osteopontin, interstitial macrophage infiltration, increased interstitial transforming growth factor-β expression, and interstitial fibrosis. This study provides new insight in both pathogenic and therapeutic aspects of CsA nephropathy. The pathogenesis of CsA nephropathy involves the expression of osteopontin by tubular epithelial cells, the level of which closely correlates with the degree of macrophage infiltration and interstitial fibrosis in all groups (r = 0.79 and 0.74, respectively, P < 0.001). Therapeutic conclusions can be drawn from the observation that both losartan and hydralazine/furosemide reduced osteopontin expression, macrophage infiltration, transforming growth factor-β expression, and interstitial fibrosis, but did not prevent the decrease in GFR. Treatment with losartan, but not with hydralazine and furosemide, markedly reduced arteriolopathy. It was concluded that angiotensin II contributes to the vasculopathy (hyalinosis) induced by CsA. In contrast, the interstitial fibrosis mediated by CsA can be partially prevented by both an angiotensin II Type I receptor antagonist or by hydralazine and furosemide. This suggests that the interstitial fibrosis can be dissociated from the vascular effects of CsA. The beneficial effects of lowering blood pressure or vasodilation per se may be difficult to distinguish from the specific effects of angiotensin II receptor blockade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1186-1196
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1995


  • Angiotensin II
  • Cyclosporin A
  • Interstitial fibrosis
  • Macrophages
  • Osteopontin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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