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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Journal of Translational Medicine 1/2019

In vitro effects of interleukin (IL)-1 beta inhibition on the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of renal tubular and hepatic stellate cells

Journal of Translational Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Valentina Masola, Amedeo Carraro, Simona Granata, Lorenzo Signorini, Gloria Bellin, Paola Violi, Antonio Lupo, Umberto Tedeschi, Maurizio Onisto, Giovanni Gambaro, Gianluigi Zaza
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12967-019-1770-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Valentina Masola and Amedeo Carraro contributed equally to this work



The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a multi-factorial biological mechanism involved in renal and hepatic fibrosis and the IL-1 beta has been assumed as a mediator of this process although data are not exhaustive. Therefore, the aim of our study was to evaluate the role of this cytokine in the EMT of renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2) and stellate cells (LX-2) and the protective/anti-fibrotic effect of its inhibition by Canakinumab (a specific human monoclonal antibody targeted against IL-1beta).


Both cell types were treated with IL-1 beta (10 ng/ml) for 6 and 24 h with and without Canakinumab (5 μg/ml). As control we used TGF-beta (10 ng/ml). Expression of EMT markers (vimentin, alpha-SMA, fibronectin) were evaluated through western blotting and immunofluorescence. Genes expression for matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 was measured by Real-Time PCR and enzymatic activity by zymography. Cellular motility was assessed by scratch assay.


IL-1 beta induced a significant up-regulation of EMT markers in both cell types and increased the MMP-2 protein expression and enzymatic activity, similarly to TGF-beta. Moreover, IL-1 beta induced a higher rate of motility in HK-2. Canakinumab prevented all these modifications in both cell types.


Our results clearly demonstrate the role of IL-1 beta in the EMT of renal/stellate cells and it underlines, for the first time, the therapeutic potential of its specific inhibition on the prevention/minimization of organ fibrosis.
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