Dose-dependent deleterious and salutary actions of the Nrf2 inducer dh404 in chronic kidney disease

Nosratola D. Vaziri, Shuman Liu, Seyed H. Farzaneh, Sohrab Nazertehrani, Mahyar Khazaeli, Ying Yong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress and inflammation play a central role in the progression and complications of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and are, in part, due to impairment of the Nrf2 system, which regulates the expression of antioxidant and detoxifying molecules. Natural Nrf2-inducing phytochemicals have been shown to ameliorate kidney disease in experimental animals. However, owing to adverse outcomes a clinical trial of a synthetic Nrf2 activator, bardoxolone methyl (BARD), in CKD patients was terminated. BARD activates Nrf2 via covalent modification of reactive cysteine residues in the Nrf2 repressor molecule, Keap1. In addition to Nrf2, Keap1 suppresses IKKB, the positive regulator of NF-κB. Treatment with a BARD analog, dh404, at 5-20 mg/kg/day in diabetic obese Zucker rats exacerbates, whereas its use at 2 mg/kg/day in 5/6 nephrectomized rats attenuates, CKD progression. We, therefore, hypothesized that deleterious effects of high-dose BARD are mediated by the activation of NF-κB. CKD (5/6 nephrectomized) rats were randomized to receive dh404 (2 or 10 mg/kg/day) or vehicle for 12 weeks. The vehicle-treated group exhibited glomerulosclerosis; interstitial fibrosis and inflammation; activation of NF-κB; upregulation of oxidative, inflammatory, and fibrotic pathways; and suppression of Nrf2 activity and its key target gene products. Treatment with low-dose dh404 restored Nrf2 activity and expression of its target genes, attenuated activation of NF-κB and fibrotic pathways, and reduced glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis, and inflammation. In contrast, treatment with a high dh404 dosage intensified proteinuria, renal dysfunction, and histological abnormalities; amplified upregulation of NF-κB and fibrotic pathways; and suppressed the Nrf2 system. Thus therapy with BARD analogs exerts a dose-dependent dimorphic impact on CKD progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-381
Number of pages8
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 30 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant system
  • CKD progression
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Fibrosis
  • Free radicals
  • Inflammation
  • Nrf2
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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