2,3,5,4′-Tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-β-d-glucoside (THSG) is an active compound extracted from Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. This herb and radix Polygoni Multiflori preparata have been used to treat arteriosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes for thousands of years. This study aimed to investigate the protective effects of THSG in an Adriamycin (AD)-induced focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) mouse model and the underlying mechanisms in an in vitro system. Mice were treated with THSG (2.5 and 10 mg/kg, oral gavage) for 24 consecutive days. On the third day, mice were intravenously given a single dose of AD (10 mg/kg). At the end of the experiment, plasma and kidney samples were harvested to evaluate the therapeutic effects of THSG. The potential mechanisms of THSG in protecting against AD-induced cytotoxicity were examined using a real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblots, lactate dehydrogenase assay, and a cellular oxidized-thiol detection system in a mouse mesangial cell line. In this study, THSG showed concentration-dependent protective effects in ameliorating the progression of AD-induced FSGS. THSG suppressed albuminuria and hypercholesterolemia and reduced the status of lipid peroxidation in urine, plasma, and kidney tissue samples. Furthermore, THSG protected against podocyte damage, reduced renal fibrotic gene expressions, and alleviated the severity of glomerulosclerosis. Treatment of mouse mesangial cells with THSG induced nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (Nrf2) nuclear translocation, increased heme oxygenase-1 and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO)-1 gene expressions, and reduced cellular thiol oxidation and resistance to AD-induced cytotoxicity. Silencing Nrf2 and its repressor protein, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1), abolished these protective effects of THSG. In conclusion, THSG can play a protective role in ameliorating the progression of FSGS in a mouse model through activation of the Nrf2-Keap1 antioxidant pathway. Although a well-designed therapeutic study is needed, THSG may be applied to manage chronic kidney disease.
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