Discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is activated by collagens that is involved in the pathogenesis of fibrotic disorders. Interestingly, de novo production of the collagen type I (Col I) has been observed in Col4a3 knockout mice, a mouse model of Alport Syndrome (AS mice). Deletion of the DDR1 in AS mice was shown to improve survival and renal function. However, the mechanisms driving DDR1-dependent fibrosis remain largely unknown.
Podocyte pDDR1 levels, Collagen and cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36) expression was analyzed by Real-time PCR and Western blot. Lipid droplet accumulation and content was determined using Bodipy staining and enzymatic analysis. CD36 and DDR1 interaction was determined by co-immunoprecipitation. Creatinine, BUN, albuminuria, lipid content, and histological and morphological assessment of kidneys harvested from AS mice treated with Ezetimibe and/or Ramipril or vehicle was performed.
We demonstrate that Col I-mediated DDR1 activation induces CD36-mediated podocyte lipotoxic injury. We show that Ezetimibe interferes with the CD36/DDR1 interaction in vitro and prevents lipotoxicity in AS mice thus preserving renal function similarly to ramipril.
Our study suggests that Col I/DDR1-mediated lipotoxicity contributes to renal failure in AS and that targeting this pathway may represent a new therapeutic strategy for patients with AS and with chronic kidney diseases (CKD) associated with Col4 mutations.
This study is supported by the NIH grants R01DK117599, R01DK104753, R01CA227493, U54DK083912, UM1DK100846, U01DK116101, UL1TR000460 (Miami Clinical Translational Science Institute, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities), F32DK115109, Hoffmann-La Roche and Alport Syndrome Foundation.

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