Magnesium lithospermate B improves the gut microbiome and bile acid metabolic profiles in a mouse model of diabetic nephropathy

Jing Zhao1,2,3, Qing-li Zhang3, Jian-hua Shen1,2,3, Kai Wang2, Jia Liu3
1 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201203, China
3 Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201203, China
Correspondence to: Kai Wang:, Jia Liu:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-018-0029-3
Received: 28 December 2017
Accepted: 17 April 2018
Advance online: 25 June 2018


Magnesium lithospermate B (MLB) is a new drug marketed in China to treat angina, but its low oral bioavailability limits its clinical application to the intravenous route. Paradoxically, orally administered low-dose MLB was found to alleviate kidney injury in diabetic nephropathy (DN) rats, but its mechanism of action remains unknown. In recent years, the kidney-gut axis has been suspected to be involved in kidney damage pathogenesis, potentially representing a non-classical pathway for pharmacologic intervention. To ascertain whether MLB targets the kidney-gut axis, streptozotocin (STZ)-treated mice were prepared as a mouse model of DN. The STZ mice were treated with MLB (50 mg kg−1 d−1, p.o.) for 8 weeks. Twenty-four-hour urinary albumin was detected to mirror kidney function. At week 4, 6, 8, feces were collected; bile acids (BAs) were quantified to examine the alterations in the BA metabolic profiles, and bacterial 16S rRNA gene fragments were sequenced to identify alterations in gut microbial composition. In STZ mice, 24-h urinary albumin levels and total fecal BAs, especially cholic acids (CAs) and deoxycholic acids (DCAs) were greatly increased, and the gut microbiome was dramatically shifted compared with control mice. Oral administration of MLB significantly decreased 24-h urinary albumin levels and total BAs, CAs and DCAs, and reversed CA:TCA (taurocholic acid) and DCA: CA ratios. It also changed the microbiome composition in STZ mice based on operational units. Thus the therapeutic effect of MLB on kidney injury might be attributed (at least partially) to its ability to modulate the disordered gut microbiome and BA metabolism.
Keywords: magnesium lithospermate B; diabetic nephropathy; intestinal microbiota; bile acid

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