Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ɣ agonist mediated inhibition of heparanase expression reduces proteinuria

Marjolein Garsen, Baranca Buijsers, Marloes Sol, Lena Gockeln, Ramon Sonneveld, Toin H. van Kuppevelt, Mark de Graaf, Jacob van den Born, Jan A.A.M. Kamps, Daniël H. van Raalte, Rutger W. van der Meer, Hildo J. Lamb, Jan Luuk Hillebrands, Ton J. Rabelink, Marissa L. Maciej-Hulme, Guido Krenning, Tom Nijenhuis, Johan van der Vlag*

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Proteinuria is associated with many glomerular diseases and a risk factor for the progression to renal failure. We previously showed that heparanase (HPSE) is essential for the development of proteinuria, whereas peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ɣ (PPARɣ) agonists can ameliorate proteinuria. Since a recent study showed that PPARɣ regulates HPSE expression in liver cancer cells, we hypothesized that PPARɣ agonists exert their reno-protective effect by inhibiting glomerular HPSE expression.

METHODS: Regulation of HPSE by PPARɣ was assessed in the adriamycin nephropathy rat model, and cultured glomerular endothelial cells and podocytes. Analyses included immunofluorescence staining, real-time PCR, heparanase activity assay and transendothelial albumin passage assay. Direct binding of PPARɣ to the HPSE promoter was evaluated by the luciferase reporter assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Furthermore, HPSE activity was assessed in 38 type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients before and after 16/24 weeks treatment with the PPARɣ agonist pioglitazone.

FINDINGS: Adriamycin-exposed rats developed proteinuria, an increased cortical HPSE and decreased heparan sulfate (HS) expression, which was ameliorated by treatment with pioglitazone. In line, the PPARɣ antagonist GW9662 increased cortical HPSE and decreased HS expression, accompanied with proteinuria in healthy rats, as previously shown. In vitro, GW9662 induced HPSE expression in both endothelial cells and podocytes, and increased transendothelial albumin passage in a HPSE-dependent manner. Pioglitazone normalized HPSE expression in adriamycin-injured human endothelial cells and mouse podocytes, and adriamycin-induced transendothelial albumin passage was reduced as well. Importantly, we demonstrated a regulatory effect of PPARɣ on HPSE promoter activity and direct PPARy binding to the HPSE promoter region. Plasma HPSE activity of T2DM patients treated with pioglitazone for 16/24 weeks was related to their hemoglobin A1c and showed a moderate, near significant correlation with plasma creatinine levels.

INTERPRETATION: PPARɣ-mediated regulation of HPSE expression appears an additional mechanism explaining the anti-proteinuric and renoprotective effects of thiazolidinediones in clinical practice.

FUNDING: This study was financially supported by the Dutch Kidney Foundation, by grants 15OI36, 13OKS023 and 15OP13. Consortium grant LSHM16058-SGF (GLYCOTREAT; a collaboration project financed by the PPP allowance made available by Top Sector Life Sciences & Health to the Dutch Kidney Foundation to stimulate public-private partnerships).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104506
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2023


  • Glomerular endothelial cells
  • Heparanase
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ɣ
  • Podocytes
  • Proteinuria
  • Thiazolidinediones

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