Multiple-Purpose Connectivity Map Analysis Reveals the Benefits of Esculetin to Hyperuricemia and Renal Fibrosis

Hyperuricemia (HUA) is a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD). Serum uric acid (SUA) levels in CKD stage 3–4 patients closely correlate with hyperuricemic nephropathy (HN) morbidity. New uric acid (UA)-lowering strategies are required to prevent CKD. The multiple-purpose connectivity map (CMAP) was used to discover potential molecules against HUA and renal fibrosis. We used HUA and unilateral ureteral occlusion (UUO) model mice to verify renoprotective effects of molecules and explore related mechanisms. In vitro experiments were performed in HepG2 and NRK-52E cells induced by UA. Esculetin was the top scoring compound and lowered serum uric acid (SUA) levels with dual functions on UA excretion. Esculetin exerted these effects by inhibiting expression and activity of xanthine oxidase (XO) in liver, and modulating UA transporters in kidney. The mechanism by which esculetin suppressed XO was related to inhibiting the nuclear translocation of hexokinase 2 (HK2). Esculetin was anti-fibrotic in HUA and UUO mice through inhibiting TGF-β1-activated profibrotic signals. The renoprotection effects of esculetin in HUA mice were associated with lower SUA, alleviation of oxidative stress, and inhibition of fibrosis. Esculetin is a candidate urate-lowering drug with renoprotective activity and the ability to inhibit XO, promote excretion of UA, protect oxidative stress injury, and reduce renal fibrosis.

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