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Susan Kralisch, Annett Hoffmann, Nora Klöting, Armin Frille, Hartmut Kuhn, Marcin Nowicki, Sabine Paeschke, Anette Bachmann, Matthias Blüher, Ming-Zhi Zhang, Raymond C Harris, Michael Stumvoll, Mathias Fasshauer and Thomas Ebert

Objective

Neuregulin 4 (NRG4) has recently been introduced as a novel brown adipose tissue (BAT)-secreted adipokine with beneficial metabolic effects in mice. However, regulation of Nrg4 in end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has not been elucidated, so far.

Design/methods

Serum NRG4 levels were quantified by ELISA in 60 subjects with ESKD on chronic hemodialysis as compared to 60 subjects with an estimated glomerular filtration rate >50 mL/min/1.73 m2 in a cross-sectional cohort. Within both groups, about half of the patients had a T2DM. Furthermore, mRNA expression of Nrg4 was determined in two mouse models of diabetic kidney disease (DKD) as compared to two different groups of non-diabetic control mice. Moreover, mRNA expression of Nrg4 was investigated in cultured, differentiated mouse brown and white adipocytes, as well as hepatocytes, after treatment with the uremic toxin indoxyl sulfate.

Results

Median serum NRG4 was significantly lower in patients with ESKD compared to controls and the adipokine was independently associated with a beneficial renal, glucose and lipid profile. In mice with DKD, Nrg4 mRNA expression was decreased in all adipose tissue depots compared to control mice. The uremic toxin indoxyl sulfate did not significantly alter Nrg4 mRNA expression in adipocytes and hepatocytes, in vitro.

Conclusions

Circulating NRG4 is independently associated with a preserved renal function and mRNA expression of -Nrg4 is reduced in adipose tissue depots of mice with DKD. The BAT-secreted adipokine is further associated with a beneficial glucose and lipid profile supporting NRG4 as potential treatment target in metabolic and renal disease states.

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Anke Tönjes, Annett Hoffmann, Susan Kralisch, Abdul Rashid Qureshi, Nora Klöting, Markus Scholz, Dorit Schleinitz, Anette Bachmann, Jürgen Kratzsch, Marcin Nowicki, Sabine Paeschke, Kerstin Wirkner, Cornelia Enzenbach, Ronny Baber, Joachim Beige, Matthias Anders, Ingolf Bast, Matthias Blüher, Peter Kovacs, Markus Löffler, Ming-Zhi Zhang, Raymond C. Harris, Peter Stenvinkel, Michael Stumvoll, Mathias Fasshauer and Thomas Ebert

Background:

Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a high risk of premature cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and show increased mortality. Pro-neurotensin (Pro-NT) was associated with metabolic diseases and predicted incident CVD and mortality. However, Pro-NT regulation in CKD and its potential role linking CKD and mortality have not been investigated, so far.

Methods:

In a central lab, circulating Pro-NT was quantified in three independent cohorts comprising 4715 participants (cohort 1: patients with CKD; cohort 2: general population study; and cohort 3: non-diabetic population study). Urinary Pro-NT was assessed in part of the patients from cohort 1. In a 4th independent cohort, serum Pro-NT was further related to mortality in patients with advanced CKD. Tissue-specific Nts expression was further investigated in two mouse models of diabetic CKD and compared to non-diabetic control mice.

Results:

Pro-NT significantly increased with deteriorating renal function (P < 0.001). In meta-analysis of cohorts 1–3, Pro-NT was significantly and independently associated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (P ≤ 0.002). Patients in the middle/high Pro-NT tertiles at baseline had a higher all-cause mortality compared to the low Pro-NT tertile (Hazard ratio: 2.11, P = 0.046). Mice with severe diabetic CKD did not show increased Nts mRNA expression in different tissues compared to control animals.

Conclusions:

Circulating Pro-NT is associated with impaired renal function in independent cohorts comprising 4715 subjects and is related to all-cause mortality in patients with end-stage kidney disease. Our human and rodent data are in accordance with the hypotheses that Pro-NT is eliminated by the kidneys and could potentially contribute to increased mortality observed in patients with CKD.