Nascent shifts in renal cellular metabolism, structure, and function due to chronic empagliflozin in prediabetic mice

Blythe D. Shepard, Jennifer Chau, Ryan Kurtz, Avi Z. Rosenberg, Pinaki Sarder, Samuel P. Border, Brandon Ginley, Olga Rodriguez, Chris Albanese, Grace Knoer, Aarenee Greene, Aline M.A. De Souza, Suman Ranjit, Moshe Levi, Carolyn M. Ecelbarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sodium-glucose cotransporter, type 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) are emerging as the gold standard for treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D) with renal protective benefits independent of glucose lowering. We took a high-level approach to evaluate the effects of the SGLT2i, empagliflozin (EMPA) on renal metabolism and function in a prediabetic model of metabolic syndrome. Male and female 12-wk-old TallyHo (TH) mice, and their closest genetic lean strain (Swiss-Webster, SW) were treated with a high-milk-fat diet (HMFD) plus/minus EMPA (@ 0.01%) for 12-wk. Kidney weights and glomerular filtration rate were slightly increased by EMPA in the TH mice. Glomerular feature analysis by unsupervised clustering revealed sexually dimorphic clustering, and one unique cluster relating to EMPA. Periodic acid Schiff (PAS) positive areas, reflecting basement membranes and mesangium were slightly reduced by EMPA. Phasor-fluorescent life-time imaging (FLIM) of free-to-protein bound NADH in cortex showed a marginally greater reliance on oxidative phosphorylation with EMPA. Overall, net urine sodium, glucose, and albumin were slightly increased by EMPA. In TH, EMPA reduced the sodium phosphate cotransporter, type 2 (NaPi-2), but increased sodium hydrogen exchanger, type 3 (NHE3). These changes were absent or blunted in SW. EMPA led to changes in urine exosomal microRNA profile including, in females, enhanced levels of miRs 27a-3p, 190a-5p, and 196b-5p. Network analysis revealed “cancer pathways” and “FOXO signaling” as the major regulated pathways. Overall, EMPA treatment to prediabetic mice with limited renal disease resulted in modifications in renal metabolism, structure, and transport, which may preclude and underlie protection against kidney disease with developing T2D. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Renal protection afforded by sodium glucose transporter, type 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i), e.g., empagliflozin (EMPA) involves complex intertwined mechanisms. Using a novel mouse model of obesity with insulin resistance, the TallyHo/ Jng (TH) mouse on a high-milk-fat diet (HMFD), we found subtle changes in metabolism including altered regulation of sodium transporters that line the renal tubule. New potential epigenetic determinants of metabolic changes relating to FOXO and cancer signaling pathways were elucidated from an altered urine exosomal microRNA signature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1272-C1290
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • SGLT2i
  • albuminuria
  • glucose
  • sodium
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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