Caspase-1, but Not Caspase-3, Promotes Diabetic Nephropathy.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Am Soc Nephrol, Volume 27, Issue 8, p.2270-5 (2016)


Animals, Caspase 1, Caspase 3, Diabetic Nephropathies, Inflammasomes, Mice


Glomerular apoptosis may contribute to diabetic nephropathy (dNP), but the pathophysiologic relevance of this process remains obscure. Here, we administered two partially disjunct polycaspase inhibitors in 8-week-old diabetic (db/db) mice: M-920 (inhibiting caspase-1, -3, -4, -5, -6, -7, and -8) and CIX (inhibiting caspase-3, -6, -7, -8, and -10). Notably, despite reduction in glomerular cell death and caspase-3 activity by both inhibitors, only M-920 ameliorated dNP. Nephroprotection by M-920 was associated with reduced renal caspase-1 and inflammasome activity. Accordingly, analysis of gene expression data in the Nephromine database revealed persistently elevated glomerular expression of inflammasome markers (NLRP3, CASP1, PYCARD, IL-18, IL-1β), but not of apoptosis markers (CASP3, CASP7, PARP1), in patients with and murine models of dNP. In vitro, increased levels of markers of inflammasome activation (Nlrp3, caspase-1 cleavage) preceded those of markers of apoptosis activation (caspase-3 and -7, PARP1 cleavage) in glucose-stressed podocytes. Finally, caspase-3 deficiency did not protect mice from dNP, whereas both homozygous and hemizygous caspase-1 deficiency did. Hence, these results suggest caspase-3-dependent cell death has a negligible effect, whereas caspase-1-dependent inflammasome activation has a crucial function in the establishment of dNP. Furthermore, small molecules targeting caspase-1 or inflammasome activation may be a feasible therapeutic approach in dNP.