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    Zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) transports zinc ions for crystallization and storage of insulin in pancreatic beta-cells and ZnT8 dysfunction is involved in pathogenesis of diabetes. The current study aimed to investigate whether ZnT8 has effects in pathophysiology of diabetic kidney disease (DKD) by using animal models for diabetes, including STZ-induced diabetic, db/db, ZnT8-KO, ZnT8-KO-STZ and ZnT8-KO-db/db mice. Results demonstrated that urine albumin to creatinine ratio and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were increased in kidneys of ZnT8-KO-STZ and ZnT8-KO-db/db mice compared with C57BL/6 J and ZnT8-KO mice, while serum TGF-β1, IL-6, and TNF-α levels were elevated in parallel. In kidneys of mice intercrossed between ZnT8-KO and STZ-induced diabetic or db/db mice, these three inflammatory factors, ACR and EMT were also found to be increased compared with C57BL/6J, db/db and ZnT8-KO mice. Furthermore, ZnT8 up-regulation by hZnT8-EGFP reduced the levels of high glucose (HG)-induced EMT and inflammatory factors in normal rat kidney tubular epithelial cell (NRK-52E cells). Expression of phosphorylated Smad2/Smad3 was up-regulated after HG stimulation and further enhanced by ZnT8 siRNA but down-regulated after hZnT8-EGFP gene transfection. The current study thus provides the first evidence that ZnT8 protects against EMT-tubulointerstitial fibrosis though the restrain of TGF-β1/Smads signaling activation in DKD.


    Xiuli Zhang, Tingwen Guan, Boxuan Yang, Harvest F Gu, Zhihong Chi. Effects of ZnT8 on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and tubulointerstitial fibrosis in diabetic kidney disease. Cell death & disease. 2020 Jul 17;11(7):544

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    PMID: 32681069

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