Background Recombinant human relaxin-2 (serelaxin), which has organ-protective actions mediated via its cognate G protein?coupled receptor relaxin family peptide receptor 1 (RXFP1), has emerged as a potential agent to treat fibrosis. Studies have shown that serelaxin requires the angiotensin II (AngII) type 2 receptor (AT(2)R) to ameliorate renal fibrogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Whether its antifibrotic actions are affected by modulation of the AngII type 1 receptor (AT(1)R), which is expressed on myofibroblasts along with RXFP1 and AT(2)R, is unknown. Methods We examined the signal transduction mechanisms of serelaxin when applied to primary rat renal and human cardiac myofibroblasts in vitro, and in three models of renal- or cardiomyopathy-induced fibrosis in vivo. Results The AT(1)R blockers irbesartan and candesartan abrogated antifibrotic signal transduction of serelaxin via RXFP1 in vitro and in vivo. Candesartan also ameliorated serelaxin?s antifibrotic actions in the left ventricle of mice with cardiomyopathy, indicating that candesartan?s inhibitory effects were not confined to the kidney. We also demonstrated in a transfected cell system that serelaxin did not directly bind to AT(1)Rs but that constitutive AT(1)R-RXFP1 interactions could form. To potentially explain these findings, we also demonstrated that renal and cardiac myofibroblasts expressed all three receptors and that antagonists acting at each receptor directly or allosterically blocked the antifibrotic effects of either serelaxin or an AT(2)R agonist (compound 21). Conclusions These findings have significant implications for the concomitant use of RXFP1 or AT(2)R agonists with AT(1)R blockers, and suggest that functional interactions between the three receptors on myofibroblasts may represent new targets for controlling fibrosis progression.
Background Having a comprehensive map of the cellular anatomy of the normal human bladder is vital to understanding the cellular origins of benign bladder disease and bladder cancer. Methods We used single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of 12,423 cells from healthy human bladder tissue samples taken from patients with bladder cancer and 12,884 cells from mouse bladders to classify bladder cell types and their underlying functions. Results We created a single-cell transcriptomic map of human and mouse bladders, including 16 clusters of human bladder cells and 15 clusters of mouse bladder cells. The homology and heterogeneity of human and mouse bladder cell types were compared and both conservative and heterogeneous aspects of human and mouse bladder evolution were identified. We also discovered two novel types of human bladder cells. One type is ADRA2A(+) and HRH2(+) interstitial cells which may be associated with nerve conduction and allergic reactions. The other type is TNNT1(+) epithelial cells that may be involved with bladder emptying. We verify these TNNT1(+) epithelial cells also occur in rat and mouse bladders. Conclusions This transcriptomic map provides a resource for studying bladder cell types, specific cell markers, signaling receptors, and genes that will help us to learn more about the relationship between bladder cell types and diseases.
Background The kidneys play an important role in phosphate homeostasis. Patients with CKD develop hyperphosphatemia in the later stages of the disease. Currently, treatment options are limited to dietary phosphate restriction and oral phosphate binders. The sodium-phosphate cotransporter Npt2a, which mediates a large proportion of phosphate reabsorption in the kidney, might be a good therapeutic target for new medications for hyperphosphatemia. Methods The authors assessed the effects of the first orally bioavailable Npt2a inhibitor (Npt2a-I) PF-06869206 in normal mice and mice that had undergone subtotal nephrectomy (5/6 Nx), a mouse model of CKD. Dose-response relationships of sodium, chloride, potassium, phosphate, and calcium excretion were assessed in response to the Npt2a inhibitor in both groups of mice. Expression and localization of Npt2a/c and levels of plasma phosphate, calcium, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF-23) were studied up to 24-hours after Npt2a-I treatment. Results In normal mice, Npt2a inhibition caused a dose-dependent increase in urinary phosphate (ED50 approximately 21 mg/kg), calcium, sodium and chloride excretion. In contrast, urinary potassium excretion, flow rate and urinary pH were not affected dose dependently. Plasma phosphate and PTH significantly decreased after 3 hours, with both returning to near baseline levels after 24 hours. Similar effects were observed in the mouse model of CKD but were reduced in magnitude. Conclusions Npt2a inhibition causes a dose-dependent increase in phosphate, sodium and chloride excretion associated with reductions in plasma phosphate and PTH levels in normal mice and in a CKD mouse model.
Background Necroptosis is a newly discovered cell death pathway that plays a critical role in AKI. The involvement of integrin-linked kinase (ILK) in necroptosis has not been studied. Methods We performed experiments in mice with an Ilk deletion in collecting duct (CD) principal cells (PCs), and cultured tubular epithelial cells treated with an ILK inhibitor or ILK siRNA knockdown. Results Ilk deletion in CD PCs resulted in acute tubular injury and early mortality in mice. Progressive interstitial fibrosis and inflammation associated with the activation of the canonical TGF-beta signaling cascade were detected in the kidneys of the mice lacking ILK in the CD PCs. In contrast to the minimal apoptosis detected in the animals' injured CDs, widespread necroptosis was present in ILK-deficient PCs, characterized by cell swelling, deformed mitochondria, and rupture of plasma membrane. In addition, ILK deficiency resulted in increased expression and activation of necroptotic proteins MLKL and RIPK3, and membrane translocation of MLKL in CD PCs. ILK inhibition and siRNA knockdown reduced cell survival in cultured tubular cells, concomitant with increased membrane accumulation of MLKL and/or phospho-MLKL. Administration of a necroptosis inhibitor, necrostatin-1, blocked cell death in vitro and significantly attenuated inflammation, interstitial fibrosis, and renal failure in ILK-deficient mice. Conclusions The study demonstrates the critical involvement of ILK in necroptosis through modulation of the RIPK3 and MLKL pathway and highlights the contribution of CD PC injury to the development of inflammation and interstitial fibrosis of the kidney.
Background Ischemic AKI lacks a urinary marker for early diagnosis and an effective therapy. Differential nucleophosmin (NPM) phosphorylation is a potential early marker of ischemic renal cell injury and a therapeutic target. Methods Differential NPM phosphorylation was assessed by mass spectrometry in NPM harvested from murine and human primary renal epithelial cells, fresh kidney tissue, and urine before and after ischemic injury. The biologic behavior and toxicity of NPM was assessed using phospho-NPM mutant proteins that either mimic stress-induced or normal NPM phosphorylation. Peptides designed to interfere with NPM function were used to explore NPM as a therapeutic target. Results Within hours of stress, virtually identical phosphorylation changes were detected at distinct serine/threonine sites in NPM harvested from primary renal cells, tissue, and urine. A phosphomimic NPM protein that replicated phosphorylation under stress localized to the cytosol, formed monomers that interacted with Bax, a cell death protein, coaccumulated with Bax in isolated mitochondria, and significantly increased cell death after stress; wild-type NPM or a phosphomimic NPM with a normal phosphorylation configuration did not. Three renal targeted peptides designed to interfere with NPM at distinct functional sites significantly protected against cell death, and a single dose of one peptide administered several hours after ischemia that would be lethal in untreated mice significantly reduced AKI severity and improved survival. Conclusions These findings establish phosphorylated NPM as a potential early marker of ischemic AKI that links early diagnosis with effective therapeutic interventions.
Background Recent single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) analyses have offered much insight into cell-specific gene expression profiles in normal kidneys. However, in diseased kidneys, understanding of changes in specific cells, particularly glomerular cells, remains limited. Methods To elucidate the glomerular cell-specific gene expression changes in diabetic kidney disease, we performed scRNA-seq analysis of isolated glomerular cells from streptozotocin-induced diabetic endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-deficient (eNOS(-/-)) mice and control eNOS(-/-) mice. Results We identified five distinct cell populations, including glomerular endothelial cells, mesangial cells, podocytes, immune cells, and tubular cells. Using scRNA-seq analysis, we confirmed the expression of glomerular cell-specific markers and also identified several new potential markers of glomerular cells. The number of immune cells was significantly higher in diabetic glomeruli compared with control glomeruli, and further cluster analysis showed that these immune cells were predominantly macrophages. Analysis of differential gene expression in endothelial and mesangial cells of diabetic and control mice showed dynamic changes in the pattern of expressed genes, many of which are known to be involved in diabetic kidney disease. Moreover, gene expression analysis showed variable responses of individual cells to diabetic injury. Conclusions Our findings demonstrate the ability of scRNA-seq analysis in isolated glomerular cells from diabetic and control mice to reveal dynamic changes in gene expression in diabetic kidneys, with variable responses of individual cells. Such changes, which might not be apparent in bulk transcriptomic analysis of glomerular cells, may help identify important pathophysiologic factors contributing to the progression of diabetic kidney disease.
Background Studies have identified mutations in >50 genes that can lead to monogenic steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS). The NUP160 gene, which encodes one of the protein components of the nuclear pore complex nucleoporin 160 kD (Nup160), is expressed in both human and mouse kidney cells. Knockdown of NUP160 impairs mouse podocytes in cell culture. Recently, siblings with SRNS and proteinuria in a nonconsanguineous family were found to carry compound-heterozygous mutations in NUP160. Methods We identified NUP160 mutations by whole-exome and Sanger sequencing of genomic DNA from a young girl with familial SRNS and FSGS who did not carry mutations in other genes known to be associated with SRNS. We performed in vivo functional validation studies on the NUP160 mutations using a Drosophila model. Results We identified two compound-heterozygous NUP160 mutations, NUP160(R1173x) and NUP160(E803K). We showed that silencing of Drosophila NUP160 specifically in nephrocytes (fly renal cells) led to functional abnormalities, reduced cell size and nuclear volume, and disorganized nuclear membrane structure. These defects were completely rescued by expression of the wild-type human NUP160 gene in nephrocytes. By contrast, expression of the NUP160 mutant allele NUP160(R1173x) completely failed to rescue nephrocyte phenotypes, and mutant allele NUP160(E803K) rescued only nuclear pore complex and nuclear lamin localization defects. Conclusions Mutations in NUP160 are implicated in SRNS. Our findings indicate that NUP160 should be included in the SRNS diagnostic gene panel to identify additional patients with SRNS and homozygous or compound-heterozygous NUP160 mutations and further strengthen the evidence that NUP160 mutations can cause SRNS.
Background Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells represent a specialized lymphocyte population associated with chronic inflammatory disorders. Little is known, however, about MAIT cells in diseases of the kidney, including CKD. Methods To evaluate MAIT cells in human native kidneys with tubulointerstitial fibrosis, the hallmark of CKD, we used multicolor flow cytometry to identify, enumerate, and phenotype such cells from human kidney tissue biopsy samples, and immunofluorescence microscopy to localize these cells. We cocultured MAIT cells and human primary proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTECs) under hypoxic (1% oxygen) conditions to enable examination of mechanistic tubulointerstitial interactions. Results We identified MAIT cells (CD3(+) TCR V alpha 7.2(+) CD161(hi)) in healthy and diseased kidney tissues, detecting expression of tissue-resident markers (CD103/CD69) on MAIT cells in both states. Tissue samples from kidneys with tubulointerstitial fibrosis had significantly elevated numbers of MAIT cells compared with either nonfibrotic samples from diseased kidneys or tissue samples from healthy kidneys. Furthermore, CD69 expression levels, also an established marker of lymphocyte activation, were significantly increased on MAIT cells from fibrotictissue samples. Immunofluorescent analyses of fibrotic kidney tissue identified MAIT cells accumulating adjacent to PTECs. Notably, MAIT cells activated in the presence of human PTECs under hypoxic conditions (modeling the fibrotic microenvironment) displayed significantly upregulated expression of CD69 and cytotoxic molecules perforin and granzyme B; we also observed a corresponding significant increase in PTEC necrosis in these cocultures. Conclusions Our findings indicate that human tissue-resident MAIT cells in the kidney may contribute to the fibrotic process of CKD via complex interactions with PTECs.
AKI is a common clinical condition associated with the risk of developing CKD and ESKD. Sepsis is the leading cause of AKI in the intensive care unit (ICU) and accounts for nearly half of all AKI events. Patients with AKI who require dialysis have an unacceptably high mortality rate of 60%-80%. During sepsis, endothelial activation, increased microvascular permeability, changes in regional blood flow distribution with resulting areas of hypoperfusion, and hypoxemia can lead to AKI. No effective drugs to prevent or treat human sepsis-induced AKI are currently available. Recent research has identified dysfunction in energy metabolism as a critical contributor to the pathogenesis of AKI. Mitochondria, the center of energy metabolism, are increasingly recognized to be involved in the pathophysiology of sepsis-induced AKI and mitochondria could serve as a potential therapeutic target. In this review, we summarize the potential role of mitochondria in sepsis-induced AKI and identify future therapeutic approaches that target mitochondrial function in an effort to treat sepsis-induced AKI.
Background Over the past two decades, the importance of genetic factors in the development of FSGS has become increasingly clear. However, despite many known monogenic causes of FSGS, single gene defects explain only 30% of cases. Methods To investigate mutations underlying FSGS, we sequenced 662 whole exomes from individuals with sporadic or familial FSGS. After quality control, we analyzed the exome data from 363 unrelated family units with sporadic or familial FSGS and compared this to data from 363 ancestry-matched controls. We used rare variant burden tests to evaluate known disease-associated genes and potential new genes. Results We validated several FSGS-associated genes that show a marked enrichment of deleterious rare variants among the cases. However, for some genes previously reported as FSGS related, we identified rare variants at similar or higher frequencies in controls. After excluding such genes, 122 of 363 cases (33.6%) had rare variants in known disease-associated genes, but 30 of 363 controls (8.3%) also harbored rare variants that would be classified as "causal" if detected in cases; applying American College of Medical Genetics filtering guidelines (to reduce the rate of false-positive claims that a variant is disease related) yielded rates of 24.2% in cases and 5.5% in controls. Highly ranked new genes include SCAF1, SETD2, and LY9. Network analysis showed that top-ranked new genes were located closer than a random set of genes to known FSGS genes. Conclusions Although our analysis validated many known FSGS-causing genes, we detected a nontrivial number of purported "disease-causing" variants in controls, implying that filtering is inadequate to allow clinical diagnosis and decision making. Genetic diagnosis in patients with FSGS is complicated by the nontrivial rate of variants in known FSGS genes among people without kidney disease.
Background The relative effects of combinations of CKD, heart disease, and stroke on risk of mortality, direct medical costs, and life expectancy are unknown. Methods In a retrospective cohort study of 506,849 Chinese adults in Hong Kong with hypertension, we used Cox regressions to examine associations between all-cause mortality and combinations of moderate CKD (eGFR of 30-59 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)), severe CKD (eGFR of 15-29 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)), heart disease (coronary heart disease or heart failure), and stroke, and modeling to estimate annual public direct medical costs and life expectancy. Results Over a median follow-up of 5.8 years (2.73 million person-years), 55,666 deaths occurred. Having an increasing number of comorbidities was associated with incremental increases in mortality risk and medical costs and reductions in life expectancy. Compared with patients who had neither CKD nor cardiovascular disease, patients with one, two, or three conditions (heart disease, stroke, and moderate CKD) had relative risk of mortality increased by about 70%, 160%, and 290%, respectively; direct medical costs increased by about 70%, 160%, and 280%, respectively; and life expectancy at age 60 years decreased by about 5, 10, and 15 years, respectively. Burdens were higher with severe CKD. Conclusions This study demonstrated extremely high mortality risk and medical cost increases for severe CKD, exceeding the combined effects from heart disease and stroke. Mortality risks and costs for moderate CKD, heart disease, and stroke were similar individually and roughly multiplicative for any combination. These findings suggest that to reduce mortality and health care costs in patients with hypertension, CKD prevention and intervention merits priority equal to that of cardiovascular disease.
The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is crucial in normal development and throughout life, but aberrant activation of this pathway has been linked to kidney fibrosis, although the mechanisms involved remain incompletely determined. Here, we investigated the role ofWnt/beta-catenin in regulatingmacrophage activation and the contribution thereof to kidney fibrosis. Treatment of macrophages with Wnt3a exacerbated IL-4- or TGF beta 1-induced macrophage alternative (M2) polarization and the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of STAT3 in vitro. Conversely, inhibition of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling prevented these IL-4- or TGF beta 1-induced processes. In a mouse model, induced deletion of beta-catenin in macrophages attenuated the fibrosis, macrophage accumulation, and M2 polarization observed in the kidneys of wild-type littermates after unilateral ureter obstruction. This study shows that activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling promotes kidney fibrosis by stimulating macrophage M2 polarization.
Background Glomerular endothelium dysfunction, which plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of early diabetic nephropathy, might be caused by circulating metabolic abnormalities. Platelet microparticles, extracellular vesicles released from activated platelets, have recently emerged as a novel regulator of vascular dysfunction. Methods We studied the effects of platelet microparticles on glomerular endothelial injury in early diabetic nephropathy in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes and primary rat glomerular endothelial cells. Isolated platelet microparticles were measured by flow cytometry. Results Plasma platelet microparticles were significantly increased in diabetic rats, an effect inhibited in aspirin-treated animals. In cultured glomerular endothelial cells, platelet microparticles induced production of reactive oxygen species, decreased nitric oxide levels, inhibited activities of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and SOD, increased permeability of the glomerular endothelium barrier, and reduced thickness of the endothelial surface layer. Conversely, inhibition of platelet microparticles in vivo by aspirin improved glomerular endothelial injury. Further analysis showed that platelet microparticles activated the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway in glomerular endothelial cells; inhibition of the mTORC1 pathway by rapamycin or raptor siRNA significantly protected against microparticle-induced glomerular endothelial injury in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, platelet microparticle-derived chemokine ligand 7 (CXCL7) contributed to glomerular endothelial injury, and antagonizing CXCL7 using CXCL7-neutralizing antibody or blocking CXCL7 receptors with a competitive inhibitor of CXCR1 and CXCR2 dramatically attenuated such injury. Conclusions These findings demonstrate a pathogenic role of platelet microparticles in glomerular endothelium dysfunction, and suggest a potential therapeutic target, CXCL7, for treatment of early diabetic nephropathy.
Background The bile acid-activated receptors, including the membrane G protein-coupled receptor TGR5 and nuclear farnesoid X receptor (FXR), have roles in kidney diseases. In this study, we investigated the role of TGR5 in renal water handling and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Methods We used tubule suspensions of inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) cells from rat kidneys to investigate the effect of TGR5 signaling on aquaporin-2 (AQP2) expression, and examined the in vivo effects of TGR5 in mice with lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) and Tgr5 knockout (Tgr5(-/-)) mice. Results Activation of TGR5 by lithocholic acid (LCA), an endogenous TGR5 ligand, or INT-777, a synthetic TGR5-specific agonist, induced AQP2 expression and intracellular trafficking in rat IMCD cells via a cAMP-protein kinase A signaling pathway. In mice with NDI, dietary supplementation with LCA markedly decreased urine output and increased urine osmolality, which was associated with significantly upregulated AQP2 expression in the kidney inner medulla. Supplementation with endogenous FXR agonist had no effect. In primary IMCD suspensions from lithium-treated rats, treatment with INT-767 (FXR and TGR5 dual agonist) or INT-777, but not INT-747 (FXR agonist), increased AQP2 expression. Tgr5(-/-) mice exhibited an attenuated ability to concentrate urine in response to dehydration, which was associated with decreased AQP2 expression in the kidney innermedulla. In lithium-treated Tgr5(-/-) mice, LCA treatment failed to prevent reduction of AQP2 expression. Conclusions TGR5 stimulation increases renal AQP2 expression and improves impaired urinary concentration in lithium-induced NDI. TGR5 is thus involved in regulating water metabolism in the kidney.