Endocannabinoids and the renal proximal tubule: An emerging role in diabetic nephropathy
Diabetic nephropathy is a leading cause for the development of end-stage renal disease. In diabetes mellitus, a number of structural changes occur within the kidney which leads to a decline in renal function. Damage to the renal proximal tubule cells (PTCs) in diabetic nephropathy includes thickening of the basement membrane, tubular fibrosis, tubular lesions and hypertrophy. A clearer understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of diabetic kidney disease is essential for the understanding of the role cellular pathways play in its pathophysiology. The endocannabinoid system is an endogenous lipid signalling system which is involved in lipogenesis, adipogenesis, inflammation and glucose metabolism. Recent studies have demonstrated that in diabetic nephropathy, there is altered expression of the endocannabinoid system. Future investigations should clarify the role of the endocannabinoid system in the development of diabetic nephropathy and within this system, identify potential therapeutics to reduce the burden of this disease.