Diabetic proximal tubulopathy: Can we mimic the disease for in vitro screening of SGLT inhibitors?

João Faria Karin G. F. Gerritsen Tri Q. Nguyen Silvia M. Mihaila Rosalinde Masereeuw

Published: 5 October 2021


Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the foremost cause of renal failure. While the glomeruli are severely affected in the course of the disease, the main determinant for disease progression is the tubulointerstitial compartment. DKD does not develop in the absence of hyperglycemia. Since the proximal tubule is the major player in glucose reabsorption, it has been widely studied as a therapeutic target for the development of new therapies. Currently, there are several proximal tubule cell lines available, being the human kidney-2 (HK-2) and human kidney clone-8 (HKC-8) cell lines the ones widely used for studying mechanisms of DKD. Studies in these models have pushed forward the understanding on how DKD unravels, however, these cell culture models possess limitations that hamper research, including lack of transporters and dedifferentiation. The sodium-glucose cotransporters (SGLT) are identified as key players in glucose reabsorption and pharmacological inhibitors have shown to be beneficial for the long-term clinical outcome in DKD. However, their mechanism of action has, as of yet, not been fully elucidated. To comprehend the protective effects of SGLT inhibitors, it is essential to understand the complete functional, structural, and molecular features of the disease, which until now have been difficult to recapitulate. This review addresses the molecular events of diabetic proximal tubulopathy. In addition, we evaluate the protective role of SGLT inhibitors in cardiovascular and renal outcomes, and provide an overview of various in vitro models mimicking diabetic proximal tubulopathy used so far. Finally, new insights on advanced in vitro systems to surpass past limitations are postulated.

Full Access Link: European Journal of Pharmacology