OBJECTIVE: Gremlin (grem1) is an antagonist of the bone morphogenetic protein family that plays a key role in limb bud development and kidney formation. There is a growing appreciation that altered grem1 expression may regulate the homeostatic constraints on damage responses in diseases such as diabetic nephropathy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Here we explored whether knockout mice heterozygous for grem1 gene deletion (grem1(+/-)) exhibit protection from the progression of diabetic kidney disease in a streptozotocin-induced model of type 1 diabetes. RESULTS: A marked elevation in grem1 expression was detected in the kidneys and particularly in kidney tubules of diabetic wild-type mice compared with those of littermate controls. In contrast, diabetic grem1(+/-) mice displayed a significant attenuation in grem1 expression at 6 months of diabetes compared with that in age- and sex-matched wild-type controls. Whereas the onset and induction of diabetes were similar between grem1(+/-) and wild-type mice, several indicators of diabetes-associated kidney damage such as increased glomerular basement membrane thickening and microalbuminuria were attenuated in grem1(+/-) mice compared with those in wild-type controls. Markers of renal damage such as fibronectin and connective tissue growth factor were elevated in diabetic wild-type but not in grem1(+/-) kidneys. Levels of pSmad1/5/8 decreased in wild-type but not in grem1(+/-) diabetic kidneys, suggesting that bone morphogenetic protein signaling may be maintained in the absence of grem1. CONCLUSIONS: These data identify grem1 as a potential modifier of renal injury in the context of diabetic kidney disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Internal Medicine