Erlotinib preserves renal function and prevents salt retention in Doxorubicin treated nephrotic rats.
Nephrotic syndrome is associated with up-regulation of the heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF). Erlotinib blocks the activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in response to HB-EGF. This study investigates the effect of Erlotinib on the progression of proteinuria, renal dysfunction, and salt retention in doxorubicin treated nephrotic rats. Male rats were divided into 3 pair-fed groups (n = 13/group) as follows: Control rats (Ctrl); rats receiving intravenous doxorubicin (Dox); and rats receiving intravenous doxorubicin followed by daily oral Erlotinib (Dox + Erl). Upon establishment of high grade proteinuria, urine sodium and creatinine clearance were measured. Kidney tissue was dissected and analyzed for γ-epithelial sodium channel (γENaC), sodium-potassium -chloride co-transporter 2 (NKCC2), sodium chloride co-transporter (NCC), aquaporin 2 (AQP2), and EGFR abundances using western blot. Creatinine clearance was preserved in the Dox + Erl rats as compared to the Dox group (in ml/min: Ctrl: 5.2±.5, Dox: 1.9±0.3, Dox + Erl: 3.6±0.5). Despite a minimal effect on the degree of proteinuria, Erlotinib prevented salt retention (Urinary Na in mEq/d: Ctrl: 2.2±0.2, Dox: 1.8±0.3, Dox + Erl: 2.2±0.2). The cleaved/uncleaved γENaC ratio was increased by 41±16% in the Dox group but unchanged in the Dox + Erl group when compared to Ctrl. The phosphorylated EGFR/total EGFR ratio was reduced by 74±7% in the Dox group and by 77±4% in the Dox + Erl group. In conclusion, Erlotinib preserved renal function and prevented salt retention in nephrotic rats. The observed effects do not appear to be mediated by direct blockade of EGFR.