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Systemic gene therapy with thymosin β4 alleviates glomerular injury in mice

By William J Mason, Daniyal J Jafree, Gideon Pomeranz, Maria Kolatsi-Joannou, Sabrina Pacheco, Dale A. Moulding, Anja Wolf, Christian Kupatt, Claire Peppiatt-Wildman, Eugenia Papakrivopoulou, Paul R Riley, David A Long, Elisavet Vasilopoulou

Posted 25 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.24.445384

Plasma ultrafiltration in the kidney occurs across glomerular capillaries, which are surrounded by epithelial cells called podocytes. Podocytes have a unique shape maintained by a complex cytoskeleton, which becomes disrupted in glomerular disease resulting in defective filtration and albuminuria. Lack of endogenous thymosin {beta}4 (TB4), an actin sequestering peptide, exacerbates glomerular injury and disrupts the organisation of the podocyte actin cytoskeleton, however, the effect of exogenous TB4 therapy on podocytopathy is unknown. Here, through interrogating single-cell RNA-sequencing data of isolated glomeruli we demonstrate that Adriamycin, a toxin which injures podocytes and leads to leakage of albumin in the urine of mice, results in reduced levels of podocyte TB4. Systemic administration of an adeno-associated virus vector encoding TB4 prevented Adriamycin-induced podocyte loss and albuminuria. Adriamycin injury was associated with disorganisation of the actin cytoskeleton in vitro, which was ameliorated by exogenous TB4. Furthermore, Adriamycin administration in mice was associated with increased prevalence of podocyte vesicles, a mechanism by which albumin may leak into the urine, which was also prevented by TB4. Collectively, we propose that TB4 gene therapy prevents podocyte injury and maintains glomerular filtration via modulation of the podocyte cytoskeleton thus presenting a novel treatment strategy for glomerular disease.

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