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Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 targets megalin in the kidney proximal tubule and aggravates proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome

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Proteinuria is a prominent feature of chronic kidney disease. Interventions that reduce proteinuria slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and the associated risk of cardiovascular disease. Here, we propose a mechanistic coupling between proteinuria and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), a regulator of cholesterol and a therapeutic target in cardiovascular disease. PCSK9 undergoes glomerular filtration and is captured by megalin, the receptor responsible for driving protein reabsorption in the proximal tubule. Accordingly, megalin-deficient mice and patients carrying megalin pathogenic variants (Donnai Barrow syndrome) were characterized by elevated urinary PCSK9 excretion. Interestingly, PCSK9 knockout mice displayed increased kidney megalin while PCSK9 overexpression resulted in its reduction. Furthermore, PCSK9 promoted trafficking of megalin to lysosomes in cultured proximal tubule cells, suggesting that PCSK9 is a negative regulator of megalin. This effect can be accelerated under disease conditions since either genetic destruction of the glomerular filtration barrier in podocin knockout mice, or minimal change disease (a common cause of nephrotic syndrome) in patients, resulted in enhanced tubular PCSK9 uptake and urinary PCSK9 excretion. Pharmacological PCSK9 inhibition increased kidney megalin while reducing urinary albumin excretion in nephrotic mice. Thus, glomerular damage increases filtration of PCSK9 and concomitantly megalin degradation, resulting in escalated proteinuria.

BogserieKidney International
Sider (fra-til)754-768
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2023

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