Fibrosis is a final common pathway for many causes of progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD). Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD)-binding integrins are important mediators of the pro-fibrotic response by activating latent TGF-β at sites of injury and by providing myofibroblasts information about the composition and stiffness of the extracellular matrix. Therefore, blockade of RGD-binding integrins may have therapeutic potential for CKD. To test this idea, we used small-molecule peptidomimetics that potently inhibit a subset of RGD-binding integrins in a murine model of kidney fibrosis. Acute kidney injury leading to fibrosis was induced by administration of aristolochic acid. Continuous subcutaneous administration of CWHM-12, an RGD integrin antagonist, for 28 days improved kidney function as measured by serum creatinine. CWHM-12 significantly reduced Collagen 1 (Col1a1) mRNA expression and scar collagen deposition in the kidney. Protein and gene expression markers of activated myofibroblasts, a major source of extracellular matrix deposition in kidney fibrosis, were diminished by treatment. RNA sequencing revealed that inhibition of RGD integrins influenced multiple pathways that determine the outcome of the response to injury and of repair processes. A second RGD integrin antagonist, CWHM-680, administered once daily by oral gavage was also effective in ameliorating fibrosis. We conclude that targeting RGD integrins with such small-molecule antagonists is a promising therapeutic approach in fibrotic kidney disease.
- RGD integrin
- kidney injury