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Activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is known to be important in cytokine production and cell survival in inflammation. This study examined the effect of inhibiting p38 MAPK after onset of renal injury in an experimental model of crescentic glomerulonephritis. Furthermore, this study investigated whether p38 MAPK inhibition would cause widespread suppression of the cytokine network in vivo or uncontrolled apoptosis. In the in vivo studies, daily treatment with a p38 MAPKalpha/beta inhibitor was started 1 h (early treatment study) or 4 d (late treatment study) after induction of nephrotoxic nephritis in Wistar Kyoto rats. The treated rats remained healthy with normal weight gain during the study. Both early and late treatment with p38 MAPK inhibitor reduced renal monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) levels, the number of glomerular macrophages, the severity of tissue injury, and proteinuria compared with the vehicle group. Unexpected, treatment with p38 MAPK inhibitor did not suppress renal levels of IL-1beta or IL-6. In the in vitro study, the p38 MAPKalpha/beta inhibitor reduced production of MCP-1 and IL-6 by TNF-alpha-or IL-1beta-stimulated mesangial cells without any effect on cell viability or apoptosis. In conclusion, p38 MAPK inhibition is effective in reducing the severity of crescentic glomerulonephritis even when treatment is started after onset of disease. The therapeutic effect is associated with selective suppression of MCP-1, without widespread suppression of cytokine production or increased apoptosis. Therefore, p38 MAPK therapeutic blockade is a promising strategy in the treatment of antibody-mediated glomerulonephritis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Soc Nephrol

Publication Date





1167 - 1179


Animals, Chemokine CCL2, Glomerulonephritis, Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1, Interleukin-1beta, Interleukin-6, Male, Protein Kinase Inhibitors, Rats, Rats, Inbred WKY, p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases