15 December 2016

Tom Nijenhuis, nephrologist and researcher, theme Renal disorders and colleagues demonstrated how sildenafil (Viagra) can prevent damage to the glomerular filter in the kidney. Damage to the glomerular filter occurs in patients with rare primary glomerular diseases, or in patients with secondary glomerular injury due to more common diseases like diabetes, hypertension or vascular injury, which all lead to chronic kidney injury.

Previous research showed that increased activity or overexpression of the Ca2+-permeable ion channel TRPC6 induces deleterious downstream signaling cascades in glomerular podocytes, identifying TRPC6-mediated signaling as a putative treatment target in glomerular disease.

Funded by a Dutch Kidney Foundation- Kolff Career Stimulation grant, and in collaboration with researchers from the Departments of Nephrology, Physiology and Pathology, together with international collaborators, Nijenhuis now identified a TRPC6 inhibitory signaling pathway in the podocyte. This pathway could be activated by sildenafil, thereby preventing glomerular injury in animals models for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and diabetic nephropathy. Since sildenafil is approved for clinical use and is therefore available for treatment in humans, this study warrants further clinical studies into its beneficial effects in glomerular disease.

The results were recently published in the high-ranking Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

 

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