Cardiovascular disease constitutes the leading cause of mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease. Despite increasing recognition of a close interplay between kidney dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, termed cardiorenal syndrome (CRS), the underlying mechanisms of CRS remain poorly understood. Here we report the development of pathological cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis in early stage non-uremic CKD. Moderate kidney failure was induced three weeks after unilateral urinary obstruction (UUO) in mice. We observed pathological cardiac hypertrophy and increased fibrosis in UUO-induced CKD (UUO/CKD) animals. Further analysis indicated that this cardiac fibrosis was associated with increased expression of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) along with significant upregulation of Smad 2/3 signaling in the heart. Moreover early treatment of UUO/CKD animals with an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor (ACE I), Enalapril, significantly attenuated cardiac fibrosis. Enalapril antagonized activation of the TGF-β signaling pathway in the UUO/CKD heart. In summary our study demonstrates the presence of pathological cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis in mice early in UUO-induced CKD, in association with early activation of the TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway. We also demonstrate the beneficial effect of ACE I in alleviating this early fibrogenic process in the heart in UUO/CKD animals.
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