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Traditional Medicine Research  2018, Vol. 3 Issue (4): 173-180    DOI: 10.12032/TMR201812076
Modernization of Traditional Medicine     
Influence of astragalus polysaccharide on kidney status and fibrosis indices of a rat model of streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy
Yue Ji1, Xue-Rou Yan1, Hong-Tao Yang2,*(), Kang Yang1, Qing-Yun Zhao1, Shou-Ci Hu1, Qi-Hang Su1
1 Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China.
2 The First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China.
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Though no down-regulation effect on blood sugar was observed, astragalus polysaccharide could improve renal tubular interstitial injury in diabetic nephropathy rats and the early stage of renal function damage, which may be related to downregulation of the TGF-β1 and α-SMA.

Editor’s Summary
The application of traditional Chinese medicine in the protection and treatment of the complication of diabetic nephropathy needs further research.

Object:To examine the effect of astragalus polysaccharide (APS) on kidney status and fibrosis indices of rats with diabetic nephropathy. Methods:72 male rats were randomly divided into three groups: negative control group (NC, n = 24); diabetic nephropathy model group (DNM, n = 24); and diabetic nephropathy model with APS group (DNM + APS, n = 24). Rats of the DNM and DNM + APS groups were subjected to both unilateral nephrectomy and administered streptozotocin (STZ) injection (65 mg/kg). DNM + APS group rats were administered 50 IU/kg/d APS by subcutaneous injection from the first week after operation until death. The NC and DNM group rats were subcutaneously injected with an identical volume of physiological saline. At weeks 3, 8, and 13 after the operation, 6 rats from each group were randomly sacrificed and blood was collected to measure serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen. On the day before sacrifice, the rats were placed in a metabolic cage for 24 h to collect urine. At week 14 after the operation, 6 rats from each group were randomly selected to measure body weight and kidney index. Blood was collected to measure blood glucose. The kidneys were harvested to detect pathological changes by hematoxylin and eosin staining. Results:Histological assessment of DNM rats suggested damage symptoms as evidenced by hyperplasia of the glomerular mesangial matrix, atrophia of the kidney tubules, and thickening of the basement membrane. In contrast, STZ-induced diabetic nephropathy rats treated with APS (50 IU/kg/d) showed significantly improved histological results, suggesting that APS has beneficial effect on renal tissues in STZ-induced DNM rats. Our results also indicated that APS relieved renal injury and effectively improved body weight in DNM rats. The ratio of kidney weight to body weight was reduced and the early stage of renal function damage was improved after APS treatment. In the later stages of the disease, the 24 h urinary protein significantly decreased. Moreover, APS down-regulated TGF-β1 and α-SMA expression of the kidney.

Key wordsDiabetic Nephropathy      Astragalus polysaccharide      Renal index      Fibrosis      TGF-β1      α-SMA     
Published: 04 July 2018
Fund:  This work was performed at Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, and was supported bya grant from the National Natural Science Fundation of China (81403218).
Corresponding Authors: Yang Hong-Tao     E-mail:
About author: They contributed equally to this work.
Cite this article:

Yue Ji, Xue-Rou Yan, Hong-Tao Yang, Kang Yang, Qing-Yun Zhao, Shou-Ci Hu, Qi-Hang Su. Influence of astragalus polysaccharide on kidney status and fibrosis indices of a rat model of streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy. Traditional Medicine Research, 2018, 3(4): 173-180. doi: 10.12032/TMR201812076

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Body weight (g) Kidney index (%) Blood glucose (mmol/L)
NC group 315.27 ± 51.92 0.49 ± 0.08 5.58 ± 1.05
DNM group 179.89 ± 41.03a 1.19 ± 0.18b 18.25 ± 2.89c
DNM + APS group 188.73 ± 35.66d 0.83 ± 0.16e 18.04 ± 1.12
Table 1 General statement
3w 8w 13w
NC group 6.01 ± 1.74 5.94 ± 1.87 5.64 ± 1.35
DNM group 10.39 ± 1.04a 10.81 ± 1.91b 11.10 ± 3.28c
DNM + APS group 5.89 ± 0.82d 6.96 ± 1.21e 11.03 ± 3.53
Table 2 Blood urea nitrogen changes (mmol/L)
3w 8w 13w
NC group 57.25 ± 2.45 62.43 ± 10.13 61.12 ± 9.49
DNM group 70.63 ± 5.25a 76.64 ± 6.69b 75.07 ± 12.31c
DNM + APS group 65.76 ± 6.04 64.88 ± 3.93d 71.26 ± 6.29
Table 3 Serum creatinine changes (μmol/L)
3w 8w 13w
NC group 29.50 ± 12.50 28.72 ± 9.58 30.60 ± 9.89
DNM group 43.12 ± 9.45a 34.47 ± 15.59b 56.07 ± 19.19c,d
DNM + APS group 41.55 ± 11.07 29.13 ± 13.01 31.59 ± 13.47e
Table 4 24 h proteinuria (mg/24 h)
Figure 1 HE staining
A: NC group; B: DNM group; C: DNM + APS group. NC, Negative control; DNM, Diabetic nephropathy model;DNM + APS, Diabetic nephropathy model with astragalus polysaccharide; HE, Hematoxylin and eosin.
Figure 2 Immunostaining effect of TGF-β1 and α-SMA in kidney
A: TGF-β1 expression in NC group; B: TGF-β1 expression in DMN group; C: TGF-β1 expression in DMN + APS group; D: α-SMA expression in NC group; E: α-SMA expression in DNM group; F: α-SMA expression in DNM + APS group. NC, Negative control; DNM, Diabetic nephropathy model; DNM + APS, Diabetic nephropathy model with astragalus polysaccharide; α-SMA, α-smooth muscle actin; TGF-β1, Transforming growth factor-β1.
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