Asiatic acid prevents renal fibrosis in UUO rats via promoting the production of 15d-PGJ2, an endogenous ligand of PPAR-γ

Zhi-hao Zhang1,2, Jun-qiu He1, Ying-yong Zhao2, Hua-chao Chen1, Ning-hua Tan1
1 State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of TCMs Pharmaceuticals, School of Traditional Chinese Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 211198, China
2 Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069, China
Correspondence to: Zhi-hao Zhang:, Hua-chao Chen:, Ning-hua Tan:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-019-0319-4
Received: 12 June 2019
Accepted: 10 October 2019
Advance online: 8 November 2019


Renal fibrosis is an inevitable outcome of all kinds of progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD). Recently, asiatic acid (AA), a triterpenoid compound from Chinese medicine Centella asiatica, has been found to attenuate renal fibrosis. In the current study, we explored the mechanisms underlying antifibrotic effect of AA on UUO model. SD rats and ICR mice were subjected to unilateral ureteral occlusion (UUO) surgery. Prior the surgery, rats were administered AA (10 mg·kg−1 per day, ig) for 7 days, whereas the mice received AA (15 mg·kg−1 per day, ig) for 3 days. UUO group displayed significant degree of renal dysfunction, interstitial fibrosis, oxidative stress, and activation of the TGF-β/Smad and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway in the kidney, these pathological changes were greatly ameliorated by pretreatment with AA. In addition, we found that co-treatment with GW9662, a selective PPAR-γ antagonist (1 mg·kg−1 per day, ip) for 7 days, abolished the protective effects of AA. We further revealed that AA pretreatment did not significantly change the expression levels of PPAR-γ in the kidney, but markedly increase the plasma levels of 15d-PGJ2, an endogenous ligand of PPAR-γ. In UUO mice, pretreatment with 15d-PGJ2 (24 μg·kg−1 per day, ip, for 7 days) produced similar protective effect as AA. Moreover, AA pretreatment upregulated the expression levels of active, nuclear-localized SREBP-1 (nSREBP-1), whereas fatostatin, a specific inhibitor of SREBP-1, decreased the expression of nSREBP-1, as well as the level of 15d-PGJ2. These results provide new insight into the antifibrotic mechanism of AA and endogenous metabolites might become a new clue for investigation of drug mechanism.
Keywords: renal fibrosis; asiatic acid; PPAR-γ; 15d-PGJ2; GW9662; metabolomics; unilateral ureteral occlusion (UUO)

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