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Activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and c-Jun amino terminal kinase (JNK) is prominent in human crescentic glomerulonephritis. p38 and JNK inhibitors suppress crescentic disease in animal models; however, the upstream mechanisms inducing activation of these kinases in crescentic glomerulonephritis are unknown. We investigated the hypothesis that apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1/MAP3K5) promote p38/JNK activation and renal injury in models of nephrotoxic serum nephritis (NTN); acute glomerular injury in SD rats, and crescentic disease in WKY rats. Treatment with the selective ASK1 inhibitor, GS-444217 or vehicle began 1 hour before nephrotoxic serum injection and continued until animals were killed on day 1 (SD rats) or 14 (WKY rats). NTN resulted in phosphorylation (activation) of p38 and c-Jun in both models which was substantially reduced by ASK1 inhibitor treatment. In SD rats, GS-444217 prevented proteinuria and glomerular thrombosis with suppression of macrophage activation on day 1 NTN. In WKY rats, GS-444217 reduced crescent formation, prevented renal impairment and reduced proteinuria on day 14 NTN. Macrophage activation, T-cell infiltration and renal fibrosis were also reduced by GS-444217. In conclusion, GS-444217 treatment inhibited p38/JNK activation and development of renal injury in rat NTN. ASK1 inhibitors may have therapeutic potential in rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis.
- p38 MAPK