We previously demonstrated that high glucose-induced cell proliferation in cultured rat mesangial cells (RMCs) is mediated through activation of big mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (BMK1). We also found that, in aldosterone-treated rats, mesangial proliferation is associated with BMK1 activation and that these effects were prevented by treatment with a selective mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, eplerenone. In this study, we investigated the contribution of mineralocorticoid receptors to high glucose-induced BMK1 activation and cell proliferation in RMCs. BMK1 phosphorylation was measured by western blot analysis. Cell proliferation was evaluated by [3H]-thymidine incorporation. High glucose treatment (15.5 mmol/l) increased BMK1 phosphorylation in both the nucleus and cytosol of RMCs. High glucose-induced BMK1 phosphorylation was attenuated by pretreatment with eplerenone (10 μmol/l), mineralocorticoid receptor small interfering RNA or PD98059 (100 μmol/l), a specific inhibitor of extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK). Likewise, high glucose-induced increases in [3H]-thymidine incorporation were prevented by eplerenone or PD98059 and transfection of dominant-negative MEK5, which is the upstream regulator of BMK1. These results suggest that mineralocorticoid receptors are involved in high glucose-induced BMK1 phosphorylation and cell proliferation. The inhibitory actions of mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists may contribute to their preventive effects on diabetic nephropathy, which have been reported in recent clinical studies.
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