The anti-aging gene, klotho, has been identified as a multi-functional humoral factor and is implicated in multiple biological processes. However, the effects of klotho on podocyte injury in diabetic nephropathy are poorly understood. Thus, the current study aims to investigate the renoprotective effects of klotho against podocyte injury in diabetic nephropathy. We examined lipid accumulation and klotho expression in the kidneys of diabetic patients and animals. We stimulated cultured mouse podocytes with palmitate to induce lipotoxicity-mediated podocyte (kidney cell) injury with or without recombinant klotho. Klotho level was decreased in podocytes of lipid-accumulated obese diabetic kidneys and palmitate-treated mouse podocytes. Palmitate-treated podocytes showed increased apoptosis, intracellular oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis, and these were significantly attenuated by klotho administration. Klotho inhibited the phosphorylation of FOXO3a, promoted its nuclear translocation, and then upregulated MnSOD expression. In addition, klotho administration attenuated palmitate-induced cytoskeleton changes, decreased nephrin expression, and increased TRPC6 expression, eventually improving podocyte albumin permeability.
Conclusion: These results suggest that klotho administration prevents palmitate-induced functional and morphological kidey injuries, and this may indicate that klotho is a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of podocyte injury in obese diabetic nephropathy. Klotho diagnostics can be used to prevent kidney injury in diabetes patients.