The endocannabinoid system is important in the pathogenesis of obesity-related metabolic disorders. However, the effect of inhibiting the endocannabinoid system in type 2 diabetic nephropathy is unclear. Therefore, we examined the effect of the cannabinoid (CB)1 receptor antagonist, SR141716, on insulin resistance and diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice. Six-week-old db/db mice were treated with the CB1-specific antagonist SR141716 (10 mg/kg·d) for 3 months. Treatment with SR141716 significantly improved insulin resistance and lipid abnormalities. Concomitantly, CB1 antagonism improved cardiac functional and morphological abnormality, hepatic steatosis, and phenotypic changes of adipocytes into small differentiated forms, associated with increased adiponectin expression and decreased lipid hydroperoxide levels. CB1 receptor was overexpressed in diabetic kidneys, especially in podocytes. Treatment with the SR141716 markedly decreased urinary albumin excretion and mesangial expansion and suppressed profibrotic and proinflammatory cytokine synthesis. Furthermore, SR141716 improved renal lipid metabolism and decreased urinary 8-isoprostane levels, renal lipid hydroperoxide content, and renal lipid content. In cultured podocytes, high-glucose stimulation increased CB1 receptor expression, and SR141716 treatment abolished high-glucose-induced up-regulation of collagen and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 synthesis. Additionally, knockdown of CB1 receptor expression by stealth small interfering RNA abolished high-glucose-induced sterol-regulatory element-binding protein-1 expression in podocytes. These findings suggest that CB1 blockade improves insulin resistance and protect against renal injury through both metabolic and antifibrotic effects in type 2 diabetic nephropathy. Targeting CB1 blockade could therefore provide a new therapeutic target to prevent type 2 diabetic nephropathy.
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