Chronic nephropathies are associated with enhanced renal synthesis of endothelin (ET)-1. A recent study demonstrated that an ET(A) receptor antagonist given to diabetic rats at the moment of disease induction prevented the development of renal injury. Here we investigated whether an unselective ET(A)/ET(B) receptor antagonist, PD 142,893, was renoprotective when given to streptozotocin diabetic rats when animals were already proteinuric. The effect of PD 142,893 was compared with that of an ACE inhibitor, lisinopril, known to retard progressive renal disease in experimental and human diabetes. PD 142,893 normalized systemic blood pressure, reduced urinary protein and albumin excretion, and ameliorated renal blood flow in diabetic rats, but it did not affect such parameters in control rats. Lisinopril had a renoprotective effect comparable to PD 142,893, although lisinopril controlled systemic blood pressure better. Northern blot analysis of ET-1 mRNA revealed upregulation of ET-1 gene in the diabetic kidney. Similar results were obtained by in situ hybridization in glomeruli and tubuli of diabetic rats. Both treatments remarkably attenuated exaggerated renal ET-1 gene expression. These data suggest that ET-1 is a contributory mediator of kidney damage in diabetes and indicate that ET receptor antagonists may represent a new therapeutic mean for treatment of progressive diabetic nephropathy.

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