Upregulation of clusterin occurs in several renal diseases and models of nephrotoxicity, but whether this promotes injury or is a protective reaction to injury is unknown. Here, in the mouse unilateral ureteral obstruction model, obstruction markedly increased the expression of clusterin, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), type I collagen, and fibronectin. Comparedwithwild-typemice, clusterin-deficientmice exhibited higher levels of PAI-1, type I collagen, and fibronectin and accelerated renal fibrosis in response to obstruction. In cultured rat tubular epithelium-like cells, adenovirus-mediated overexpression of clusterin inhibited the expression of TGF-β-stimulated PAI-1, type I collagen, and fibronectin. Clusterin inhibited TGF-β-stimulated Smad3 activity via inhibition of Smad3 phosphorylation and its nuclear translocation. Moreover, intrarenal delivery of adenovirus-expressing clusterin upregulated expression of clusterin in tubular epithelium-like cells and attenuated obstruction-induced renal fibrosis. In conclusion, clusterin attenuates renal fibrosis in obstructive nephropathy. These results suggest that upregulation of clusterin during renal injury is a protective response against the development of renal fibrosis.
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