Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is one of the most common complications of diabetes and a critical risk factor for developing end-stage renal disease. Activation of purinergic receptors, including P2Y2R has been associated with the pathogenesis of renal diseases, such as polycystic kidney and glomerulonephritis. However, the role of P2Y2R and its precise mechanisms in DN remain unknown. We hypothesised that P2Y2R deficiency may play a protective role in DN by modulating the autophagy signalling pathway.
We used a mouse model of DN by combining a treatment of high-fat diet and streptozotocin after unilateral nephrectomy in wild-type or P2Y2R knockout mice. We measured renal functional parameter in plasma, examined renal histology, and analysed expression of autophagy regulatory proteins.
Hyperglycaemia and ATP release were induced in wild type-DN mice and positively correlated with renal dysfunction. Conversely, P2Y2R knockout markedly attenuates albuminuria, podocyte loss, development of glomerulopathy, renal tubular injury, apoptosis and interstitial fibrosis induced by DN. These protective effects were associated with inhibition of AKT-mediated FOXO3a (forkhead box O3a) phosphorylation and induction of FOXO3a-induced autophagy gene transcription. Furthermore, inhibitory phosphorylation of ULK-1 was decreased, and the downstream Beclin-1 autophagy signalling was activated in P2Y2R deficiency. Increased SIRT-1 (sirtuin-1) and FOXO3a expression in P2Y2R deficiency also enhanced autophagy response, thereby ameliorating renal dysfunction in DN.
P2Y2R contributes to the pathogenesis of DN by impairing autophagy and serves as a therapeutic target for treating DN.