Periostracum cicadae, the cast-off shell of the cicada Cryptotympana pustulata
Fabricius, is used in traditional Chinese medicine for its diaphoretic, anticonvulsive, sedative, antipyretic, and antiallergic effects. However, the exact pathogenesis of immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) remains unclear, thereby hindering investigations to identify novel therapeutic agents. A rat IgAN model was established by administration of bovine serum albumin, lipopolysaccharide, and carbon tetrachloride, which simultaneously established blood stasis and a heat syndrome model. The animals were sacrificed to detect changes in protein levels in urine and blood. Immunofluorescence was performed to assess IgA deposition in the glomeruli. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Hematology and eosin, periodic acid-Schiff, TUNEL (TdT-mediated dUTP Nick-End Labeling), and immunohistochemical staining were performed to evaluate histopathological changes in kidney tissues. Additionally, target-related proteins were measured by Western blotting. Periostracum cicadae resulted in a reduction in blood and urine protein levels. Serum TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 levels significantly decreased in the periostracum cicadae-treated groups compared to the IgAN group. Furthermore, a reduction in MCP-1 (Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1), TLR4 ((Toll-Like Receptor 4)), and IgA expression levels and a dose-dependent increase in caspase 3 expression were observed in response to periostracum cicadae treatment. TGF-β1(Transforming Growth Factor-β) levels decreased, whereas that of Fas increased in the kidney tissues of the periostracum cicadae-treated groups. The findings of the present study indicate that periostracum cicadae induces apoptosis and improves kidney inflammation and fibrosis in IgA nephropathy rat models.
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