The renoprotective effects of pentoxifylline: beyond its role in diabetic nephropathy

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Korean J Intern Med. 2013;28(3):374-376
Publication date (electronic) : 2013 May 01
doi :
Mechanicsville Clinic, Mechanicsville, VA, USA.
Correspondence to Shailendra Kapoor, M.D. Mechanicsville Clinic, Rt 360, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, USA. Tel: +1-865-567-4567, Fax: +1-865-678-6787,
Received 2012 October 26; Revised 2012 November 21; Accepted 2012 November 22.

To the Editor,

I read with great interest the article by Sun et al. [1]. Pentoxifylline may exert a number of renoprotective effects, besides its role in attenuating diabetic nephropathy. Pentoxifylline attenuates kidney damage secondary to hepatic ischemia/reperfusion injury. It mediates this action by decreasing malondialdehyde levels [2]. Simultaneously, it restores intracellular glutathione. As a result, oxidative injury to the kidneys is mitigated. Obviously, conditions such as hepato-renal syndrome can be avoided with pentoxifylline pretreatment. The coming years may very well see increased use of pentoxifylline as a prophylactic agent to prevent hepatorenal syndrome in patients with concurrent cirrhosis and ascites.

Pentoxifylline is also beneficial in chronic renal disease. It benefits the kidneys by stabilizing renal function and the glomerular filtration rate. Concurrent decreases in inflammatory markers such as tissue necrosis factor-α and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein reflect the attenuation of inflammatory damage in the kidneys. The interleukin-6 level also decreases at the same time [3]. In addition, pentoxifylline helps reduce proteinuria in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Renke et al. [3] recently reported a 26% decline in proteinuria following pentoxifylline therapy in comparison with placebo therapy. Pentoxifylline also decreases proteinuria in CKD patients following renal transplantation. Moreover, pentoxifylline modulates hepcidin function and augments iron release, thereby improving hemoglobin levels in CKD patients.

By virtue of its antioxidant properties, pentoxifylline also mitigates and reduces renal damage secondary to exposure to cigarette smoke. Similarly, pentoxifylline is of benefit in cardiac surgery because it prevents and attenuates acute renal injury [4]. When used in conjunction with albumin, pentoxifylline protects the kidneys from injury following endotoxemic shock, by decreasing inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in the kidneys [5]. Similarly, the postlaparoscopy administration of pentoxifylline attenuates renal ischemia associated with laparoscopy.

These examples clearly illustrate the renoprotective effects of pentoxifylline.


No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article is reported.


1. Sun HK, Lee YM, Han KH, Kim HS, Ahn SH, Han SY. Phosphodiesterase inhibitor improves renal tubulointerstitial hypoxia of the diabetic rat kidney. Korean J Intern Med 2012;27:163–170. 22707888.
2. Seifi B, Kadkhodaee M, Delavari F, Mikaeili S, Shams S, Ostad SN. Pretreatment with pentoxifylline and N-acetylcysteine in liver ischemia reperfusion-induced renal injury. Ren Fail 2012;34:610–615. 22364443.
3. Renke M, Tylicki L, Rutkowski P, et al. Effect of pentoxifylline on proteinuria, markers of tubular injury and oxidative stress in non-diabetic patients with chronic kidney disease: placebo controlled, randomized, cross-over study. Acta Biochim Pol 2010;57:119–123. 20309434.
4. Barkhordari K, Karimi A, Shafiee A, et al. Effect of pentoxifylline on preventing acute kidney injury after cardiac surgery by measuring urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin. J Cardiothorac Surg 2011;6:8. 21247431.
5. Bansal S, Wang W, Falk S, Schrier R. Combination therapy with albumin and pentoxifylline protects against acute kidney injury during endotoxemic shock in mice. Ren Fail 2009;31:848–854. 19925295.

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