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1.  Modulation of Renin Angiotensin System Predominantly alters Sclerotic Phenotype of Glomeruli in HIVAN 
Histology and histopathology  2014;29(12):1575-1581.
Summary
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is a common complication of HIV-1 infection in patients with African ancestry in general and with APOL1 gene risk variants in particular. Although collapsing glomerulopathy is considered a hallmark of HIVAN, significant numbers of glomeruli in patients with HIVAN also display other variants of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). We propose that collapsed glomeruli as well as glomeruli with other variants of FSGS are manifestations of HIVAN and their prevalence depends on associated host factors. We explored the role of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in the manifestation of any specific glomerular phenotype in HIVAN. To evaluate the role of the RAS we have used a genetically engineered mouse model of HIVAN (Tg26) with two and four copies of angiotensinogen (Agt) gene (Tg26/Agt2 and Tg26/Agt4). In Tg26/Agt2, 1 out of 6 glomeruli exhibited sclerosed phenotype, whereas 1 out of 25 glomeruli displayed collapsed phenotype; on the other hand, in Tg26/Agt4, 1 out of 3 glomeruli exhibited sclerotic phenotype and only 1 out of 7 glomeruli showed collapsed phenotype. To inhibit the effect of RAS, Tg26/Agt2 were administered captopril, aliskiren, aliskiren plus captopril or aliskiren plus telmisartan by miniosmotic pumps for 4 weeks. In all experimental groups there was a significant reduction in percentage of sclerosed glomeruli and only minimal reduction in collapsed glomeruli compared to normal saline receiving Tg26/Agt2. These findings suggest that the manifestation of the sclerosed phenotype in HIVAN is predominantly dependent on activation of the RAS.
PMCID: PMC4241129  PMID: 24892944
HIV-associated Nephropathy; Focal Glomerulosclerosis; Renin-angiotensin system; Angiotensinogen
2.  Bone-derived mesenchymal stromal cells from HIV transgenic mice exhibit altered proliferation, differentiation capacity and paracrine functions along with impaired therapeutic potential in kidney injury 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(14):2266-2274.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) secrete paracrine factors that could be cytoprotective and serve roles in immunoregulation during tissue injury. Although MSCs express HIV receptors, and co-receptors, and are susceptible to HIV infection, whether HIV-1 may affect biological properties of MSCs needs more study. We evaluated cellular proliferation, differentiation and paracrine functions of MSCs isolated from compact bones of healthy control mice and Tg26 HIV-1 transgenic mice. The ability of MSCs to protect against cisplatin toxicity was studied in cultured renal tubular cells as well as in intact mice. We successfully isolated MSCs from healthy mice and Tg26 HIV-1 transgenic mice and found the latter expressed viral Nef, Vpu, NL4-3 and Vif genes. The proliferation and differentiation of Tg26 HIV-1 MSCs was inferior to MSCs from healthy mice. Moreover, transplantation of Tg26 HIV-1 MSCs less effectively improved outcomes compared with healthy MSCs in mice with acute kidney injury. Also, Tg26 HIV-1 MSCs secreted multiple cytokines, but at significantly lower levels than healthy MSCs, which resulted in failure of conditioned medium from these MSCs to protect cultured renal tubular cells from cisplatin toxicity. Therefore, HIV-1 had adverse biological effects on MSCs extending to their proliferation, differentiation, function, and therapeutic potential. These findings will help in advancing mechanistical insight in renal injury and repair in the setting of HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.06.008
PMCID: PMC3779877  PMID: 23806280
3.  Transplantation of Bone Marrow-derived MSCs Improves Cisplatinum-induced Renal Injury through Paracrine Mechanisms 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been reported to preserve renal function in various models of acute kidney injury (AKI). Different routes were used to transplant MSCs but the role of cell transplantation routes in directing outcomes has been unknown. In the present study, we evaluated organ bio-distributions of transplanted MSCs, and correlated survival of transplanted cells with outcomes in mice with cisplatinum-induced AKI. We found that after intravenous administration MSCs were largely localized in pulmonary capillaries and only a minute fraction of MSCs entered kidneys and the cells survived only transiently. Therefore, we also transplanted MSCs via intraperitoneal and renal subcapsular routes. Transplanted MSCs survived longer in peritoneal cavity and renal subcapsular space. Interestingly, when MSCs transplantation was followed by cisplatinum-induced AKI, renal morphology and renal functions were better preserved, irrespective of the cell transplantation route. As transplanted MSCs did not migrate to kidneys from either peritoneal cavity or renal subcapsular space, this finding suggested that migration of cells was not required for the beneficial response. The possibility of indirect mechanisms was confirmed when administration of the conditioned medium from MSCs also protected renal tubular cells from cisplatinum-induced cytotoxicity. We identified presence of over forty regulatory cytokines in the conditioned medium obtained from MSCs. Since paracrine factors released by transplanted cells accounted for improvements, it appears that the route of cell transplantation is not critical for realizing benefits in AKI of cell therapy with MSCs. Studies of specific cytokines secreted by MSCs will help to obtain new therapeutic mechanisms for renal protection.
doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2013.03.002
PMCID: PMC3647016  PMID: 23534987
4.  Deficit of p66ShcA Restores Redox-sensitive Stress Response Program in Cisplatin-induced Acute Kidney Injury 
Overwhelming oxidative stress and compromised tubular cell antioxidant response have been incriminated for cisplatin (Cis) -induced acute kidney injury (AKI). We hypothesized that Cis-induced KI was the outcome of the deactivated redox-sensitive stress response program (RSSRP). Wild (WT) and heterozygous p66ShcA+/− mice in groups of six were administered either normal saline (WT) or Cis (12.5 mg/kg, intraperitoneal, Cis/WT). Renal biomarkers were collected and kidneys were harvested for renal histology. Cis/WT showed elevated blood urea nitrogen levels and enhanced tubular cell apoptosis, necrosis, and dilated tubules filled with casts when compared to Cis/p66+/−. Cis/p66+/− developed only a clinically occult ARF (normal blood urea levels and only microscopic alterations). Immunoblots from the lysates of renal tissues of Cis/WT displayed enhanced expression of phospho-p66ShcA, and phospho-Foxo3A but attenuated expression of MnSOD and catalase; conversely, p66 deficit prevented these alterations in Cis milieu. In in vitro studies, Cis treated mouse proximal tubular cells (MPTCs) displayed enhanced phosphorylation of p66ShcA and no increase in tubular cell expression of MnSOD. In addition, renal tissues of Cis/WT and Cis-treated MPTCs displayed enhanced phosphorylation of p53 and Bax expression. However, MPTC partially silenced for p66ShcA displayed partial inhibition of Cis-induced tubular cell apoptosis as well as necrosis. These findings indicated that Cis-induced AKI was the outcome of the deactivated RSSRP (attenuated anti-oxidant response) and activation of pro-apoptotic (p53-induced Bax expression) pathway.
doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2013.03.001
PMCID: PMC3720132  PMID: 23506954
5.  Ethanol and Vitamin D Receptor in T cell Apoptosis 
Ethanol has been demonstrated to cause T cell apoptosis. In the present study, we evaluated the role of VDR and the renin angiotensin system (RAS) in oxidative stress-induced T cell apoptosis. Ethanol-treated human T cells displayed down regulation of vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the activation of the RAS in the form of enhanced T cell renin expression and angiotensin II (Ang II) production. The silencing of VDR with siRNA displayed the activation of the RAS, and activation of the VDR resulted in the down regulation of the RAS. It suggested that ethanol-induced T cell RAS activation was dependent on the VDR status. T cell ROS generation by ethanol was found to be dose dependent. Conversely, ethanol-induced ROS generation was inhibited if VDR was activated or Ang II was blocked by an angiotensin II type 1 (AT1) receptor blocker (Losartan). Furthermore, it was observed that ethanol not only induced double strand breaks in T cells but also attenuated DNA repair response, whereas, VDR activation inhibited ethanol-induced double strand breaks and also enhanced DNA repairs. Since free radical scavengers inhibited ethanol-induced DNA damage, it would indicate that ethanol-induced DNA damage was mediated through ROS generation. These findings indicated that ethanol-induced T cell apoptosis was mediated through ROS generation in response to ethanol-induced down regulation of VDR and associated activation of the RAS.
doi:10.1007/s11481-012-9393-9
PMCID: PMC3556365  PMID: 23054367
6.  Nef interaction with actin compromises human podocyte actin cytoskeletal integrity 
The HIV-1 accessory protein Nef is considered to play an important role in the development of podocyte phenotype in HIV-1 associated nephropathy. We hypothesized that Nef may be altering podocyte phenotype both structurally and functionally. To elucidate the involved mechanisms, podocyte proteins interacting with Nef were identified using GST pull down assay and yeast two hybrid assay. The GST pull down assay on protein extracts made from stable colonies of conditionally immortalized human podocytes expressing Nef (Nef/CIHP) displayed a band at 45 kD, which was identified as actin by mass spectrometry. Yeast two hybrid assay identified the following Nef-interacting proteins: syntrophin, filamin B, syntaxin, translational elongation factor 1, and zyxin. The Nef-actin and Nef- zyxin interactions were confirmed by co-localization studies on Nef/CIHP stable cell lines. The co-localization studies also showed that Nef/CIHP stable cell lines had decreased number of actin filaments (stress fibers), displayed formation of lamellipodia, and increased number of podocyte projectons (filopodia). Nef/CIHP displayed enhanced cortical F-actin score index (P<0.001) and thus indicating reorganization of F-actin in the cortical regions. Microarray analysis showed that Nef enhanced the expression of Rac1, syndecan-4, Rif, and CDC42 and attenuated the expression of syndecan-3 and syntenin. In addition, Nef/CIHPs displayed diminished sphingomyelinase (ASMase) activity. Functionally, Nef/CIHPs displayed diminished attachment and enhanced detachment to their substrate. These findings indicate that Nef interaction with actin compromises podocyte cytoskeleton integrity.
doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2012.06.001
PMCID: PMC3463768  PMID: 22721673
7.  Rapamycin-induced modulation of HIV gene transcription attenuates progression of HIVAN 
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is the manifestation of HIV genes expression by kidney cells in the presence of specific host factors. Recently, rapamycin (sirolimus) has been demonstrated to modulate the progression of HIVAN. We hypothesized that rapamycin would modulate the progression of HIVAN by attenuating HIV genes expression. To test our hypothesis, three weeks old Tg26 mice (n=6) were administered either vehicle or rapamycin (5 mg/kg/day, intraperitoneally) for eight weeks. At the end of experimental period, kidneys were harvested. In in vitro studies, human podocytes were transduced with either HIV-1 (NL4-3) or empty vector (EV), followed by treatment with either vehicle or rapamycin. Total RNA and proteins were extracted from renal tissues/ cellular lysates and HIV gene transcription/translation was measured by real time PCR and Western blotting studies. Renal histological slides were graded for glomerular sclerosis and tubular dilatation with microcyst formation. Rapamycin attenuated both glomerular and tubular lesions in Tg26 mice. Rapamycin decreased transcription of HIV genes both in renal tissues as well as in HIV-1 transduced podocytes. Our data strongly indicate that HIV-1 long terminal repeat-mediated transcriptional activity was targeted by rapamycin. Rapamycin enhanced podocyte NF-kB and CREB activities but then it decreased AP-1 binding activity. Since expression of HIV genes by kidney cells has been demonstrated to be the key factor in the development HIVAN, it appears that rapamycin-induced altered transcription of HIV genes might have partly contributed to its disease modulating effects.
doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2012.09.009
PMCID: PMC3535680  PMID: 23010541
8.  Tubular Cell HIV-Entry through Apoptosed CD4 T cells: A Novel Pathway 
Virology  2012;434(1):68-77.
We hypothesized that HIV-1 may enter tubular cells by phagocytosis of apoptotic fragments of HIV-1-infected T cells infiltrating tubular interstitium. The study was designed to evaluate the interaction of programmed death-1(PD-1) receptors on CD4 T cells and programmed death ligand-1(PD-L1) on tubular cells (HK2 and HRPTEC, primary tubular cells). Co-cultivation of HIV-1 infected lymphocytes (HIV-LY) with HK2s/HRPTECs resulted in T cell apoptosis, uptake of the apoptosed HIV-LY by HK2s/HRPTECs, tubular cell activation and HIV expression. Cytochalasin-B inhibited tubular cell HIV-LY uptake and anti-PD-L1 antibody inhibited HIV-LY apoptosis and tubular cell HIV-LY uptake, activation and HIV expression. These observations do indicate induction of apoptosis of T cells due to interaction of PD-1 and PD-L1 upon co-cultivation and subsequent phygocytosis of HIV-laden apoptotic bodies by tubular cells and thus the transfer of HIV-1 into tubular cells. These findings identify a novel pathway that facilitates HIV-1 entry into tubular cell.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2012.09.009
PMCID: PMC3667410  PMID: 23040891
9.  Sirolimus modulates HIVAN phenotype through inhibition of epithelial mesenchymal transition 
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is characterized by proliferative phenotype in the form of collapsing glomerulopathy and microcystic dilatation of tubules. Recently, epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) of renal cells has been demonstrated to contribute to the pathogenesis of proliferative HIVAN phenotype. We hypothesized that sirolimus would modulate HIVAN phenotype by attenuating renal cell EMT. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of sirolimus on the development of renal cell EMT as well as on display of HIVAN phenotype in a mouse model of HIVAN (Tg26). Tg26 mice receiving normal saline (TgNS) showed enhanced proliferation of both glomerular and tubular cells when compared to control mice-receiving normal saline (CNS); on the other hand, Tg26 mice receiving sirolimus (TgS) showed attenuated renal cell proliferation when compared with TgNS. TgNS also showed increased number of α-SMA-, vimentin-, and FSP1- positive cells (glomerular as well as tubular) when compared with CNS; however, TgS showed reduced number of SMA, vimentin, and FSP1 +ve renal cells when compared to TgNS. Interestingly, sirolimus preserved renal epithelial cell expression of E-cadherin in TgS. Since sirolimus attenuated renal cell ZEB expression (a repressor of E-cadherin transcription), it appears that sirolimus may be attenuating renal cell EMT by preserving epithelial cell E-cadherin expression.
doi:10.1016/j.yexmp.2012.04.021
PMCID: PMC3372700  PMID: 22579465
10.  HIV-associated Nephropathy : Role of AT2R 
Cellular Signalling  2011;24(3):734-741.
AT1R has been reported to play an important role in the progression of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN); however, the effect of AT2R has not been studied. Age and sex matched control (FVB/N) and Tg26 mice aged 4, 8, and 16 weeks were studied for renal tissue expression of AT1R and AT2R (Protocol A). Renal tissue mRNA expression of AT2R was lower in Tg26 mice when compared with control mice. In protocol B, Tg26 mice were treated with either saline, telmisartan (TEL, AT1 blocker), PD123319 (PD, AT2R blocker), or TEL + PD for two weeks. TEL-receiving Tg26 (TRTg) displayed less advanced glomerular and tubular lesions when compared with saline-receiving Tg26 (SRTg). TRTgs displayed enhanced renal tissue AT2R expression when compared to SRTgs. Diminution of renal tissue AT2R expression was associated with advanced renal lesions in SRTgs; whereas, upregulation of AT2R expression in TRTgs was associated with attenuated renal lesions. PD-receiving Tg 26 mice (PDRTg) did not show any alteration in the course of HIVAN; whereas, PD + TEL-receiving Tg26 (PD-TRTg) showed worsening of renal lesions when compared to TRTgs. Interestingly, plasma as well as renal tissues of Tg26 mice displayed several fold higher concentration of Ang III, a ligand of AT2R.
doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2011.11.007
PMCID: PMC3258382  PMID: 22108089
11.  HIV-1 and Kidney Cells: Better Understanding of Viral Interaction 
Nephron. Experimental Nephrology  2010;115(2):e15-e21.
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is the most common disease affecting untreated seropositive patients of African descent. Besides genetic (African descent) and HIV-1 infection (environmental), specific host factors such as activation of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) have also been demonstrated to play a role in the manifestation of HIVAN. The recent identification of MYH9 as susceptible allele is a key step forward in our understanding for the pathogenesis of focal glomerulosclerosis in people of African-American descent. HIV-1 transgenic models have significantly advanced our knowledge base in terms of role of HIV-1 genes in general and individual gene in particular in the development of renal lesions mimicking HIVAN. These studies suggest that viral replication is not needed for the development of renal lesions. Renal biopsy data from HIVAN patients suggest that renal epithelial cells express HIV-1 genes and thus it may be sufficient to invoke HIVAN phenotype in the presence of specific host and genetic factors. On the other hand, immune response to infection may be required to induce HIV-1 associated immune complex kidney disease (HIVICK). Since renal cell lack conventional HIV-1 receptors, HIV-1 entry into renal cells has been a mystery. Recently, non-conventional pathways have been demonstrated to facilitate HIV-1 entry into renal cells in in vitro studies. These include presence of DEC-205 receptors in renal tubular cells and lipid rafts in podocytes. However, HIV-1 entry through these pathways only allows non-productive infection. It appears that the presence of specific genetic and host factors in in vivo conditions may be facilitating the development of the productive HIV-1 infection in kidney cells.
doi:10.1159/000312882
PMCID: PMC2889261  PMID: 20407278
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN); HIV-associated immune complex kidney disease (HIVICK); Tubular cells; Podocytes; DEC-205
12.  Heme Oxygenase-1 Modulates Mesangial Cell Proliferation by p21waf1 Upregulation 
Renal failure  2010;32(2):254-258.
Mesangial cell (MC) proliferation is a hall mark of many progressive renal diseases. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been shown to have an anti-proliferative effect on vascular smooth muscle cells. In the present study, we evaluated the role of HO-1 on MC proliferation and the involved molecular mechanism. Both epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) not only enhanced mesangial cell HO-1 expression but also stimulated proliferation of MCs. Interestingly, inhibition of HO-1 induction (by zinc protoporphyrin, ZnP). was associated with an accelerated mitogenic response to EGF and HGF in MCs. Induction of HO-1 was associated with enhanced mesangial cell p21 expression. On the other hand, hemoglobin and ZnP inhibited mesangial cell p21 expression. It appears that the effect of HO-1 on MC growth may be mediated through upregulation of p21 expression.
doi:10.3109/08860220903491240
PMCID: PMC2882056  PMID: 20199188
Heme oxygenase-1; hemin; Mesangial cells; p21
13.  sPLA2 IB induces human podocyte apoptosis via the M-type phospholipase A2 receptor 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6660.
The M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) is expressed in podocytes in human glomeruli. Group IB secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2 IB), which is one of the ligands of the PLA2R, is more highly expressed in chronic renal failure patients than in controls. However, the roles of the PLA2R and sPLA2 IB in the pathogenesis of glomerular diseases are unknown. In the present study, we found that more podocyte apoptosis occurs in the kidneys of patients with higher PLA2R and serum sPLA2 IB levels. In vitro, we demonstrated that human podocyte cells expressed the PLA2R in the cell membrane. After binding with the PLA2R, sPLA2 IB induced podocyte apoptosis in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. sPLA2 IB-induced podocyte PLA2R upregulation was not only associated with increased ERK1/2 and cPLA2α phosphorylation but also displayed enhanced apoptosis. In contrast, PLA2R-silenced human podocytes displayed attenuated apoptosis. sPLA2 IB enhanced podocyte arachidonic acid (AA) content in a dose-dependent manner. These data indicate that sPLA2 IB has the potential to induce human podocyte apoptosis via binding to the PLA2R. The sPLA2 IB-PLA2R interaction stimulated podocyte apoptosis through activating ERK1/2 and cPLA2α and through increasing the podocyte AA content.
doi:10.1038/srep06660
PMCID: PMC4205892  PMID: 25335547
14.  c-Abl mediates angiotensin II-induced apoptosis in podocytes 
Journal of molecular histology  2013;44(5):597-608.
Backgroud
Angiotensin II (Ang II) has been reported to cause podocyte apoptosis in rats both in vivo and in vitro studies. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated the role of the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase c-Abl in Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis.
Methods
Male Sprague-Dawley rats in groups of 12 were administered either Ang II (400 kg-1·kg-1·min-1) or Ang II + STI-571 (50 mg·kg-1·d-1) by osmotic minipumps. In addition, 12 rats-receiving normal saline served as the control. Glomeruli c-Abl expression was carried out by real time PCR, Western blotting and immunolabeled, and occurrence of apoptosis was carried out by TUNEL staining and transmission electron microscopic analysis. In vitro studies, conditionally immortalized mouse podocytes were treated with Ang II (10-9-10-6 M) in the presence or absence of either c-Abl inhibitor, Src-I1, specific c-Abl siRNA, or c-Abl plasmid alone. Quantification of podocyte c-Abl expression and c-Abl phosphorylation at Y245 and Y412 was carried out by real time PCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence imaging. The nuclear c-Abl and p53 were quantified by co-immunoprecipitation and Western blotting studies. Podocyte apoptosis was analysed by flow cytometry and Hoechst-33342 staining.
Results
c-Abl expression was demonstrated in rat kidney podocytes in vivo and cultured mouse podocytes in vitro. Ang II-receiving rats displayed enhanced podocyte c-Abl expression. And Ang II significantly stimulated c-Abl expression in cultured podocytes. Furthermore Ang II upregulated podocyte c-Abl phosphorylation at Y245 and Y412. Ang II also induced an increase of nuclear p53 protein and nuclear c-Abl-p53 complexes in podocytes and podocyte apoptosis. Down-regulation of c-Abl expression by c-Abl inhibitor (Src-I1) as well as specific siRNA inhibited Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis; conversely, podoctyes transfected with c-Abl plasmid displayed enhanced apoptosis.
Conclusions
These findings indicate that c-Abl may mediates Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis, and inhibition of c-Abl expression can protect podocytes from Ang II-induced injury.
doi:10.1007/s10735-013-9505-8
PMCID: PMC3758790  PMID: 23515840
c-Abl; Apoptosis; Angiotensin II, Podocyte; p53
15.  Rapamycin-induced modulation of miRNA expression is associated with amelioration of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(13):2073-2080.
Recent studies suggested that miRNAs are involved in the development of the pathogenesis of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN). Rapamycin, a widely used mTOR inhibitor, has been demonstrated to slow down the progression of HIVAN. However, the role of miRNA in the regulation of these processes has not been investigated so far. In the current study, we have used a microarray-based approach in combination with real-time PCR to profile the miRNA expression patterns in rapamycin-treated HIVAN mice (Tg26). Our results demonstrated that 19 miRNAs belonging to 13 different families expressed differentially in renal tissues of rapamycin-receiving Tg26 mice when compared to Tg26 mice-receiving saline only. The patterns of miRNAs expression in rapamycin-receiving Tg26 mice took a reverse turn. These miRNAs were classified into 8 functional categories. In in vitro studies, we examined the expression of specific miRNAs in HIV-1 transduced human podocytes (HIV/HPs). HIV/HPs displayed attenuation of expression of miR-99a, -100a, -199a and miR-200, whereas, rapamycin inhibited this effect of HIV. These findings suggest that rapamycin-mediated up-regulation of specific miRNAs could contribute to amelioration of renal lesions in HIVAN mice.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.04.011
PMCID: PMC3766844  PMID: 23611955
MicroRNA; HIV-associated nephropathy; Epithelial mesanchymal transition; Apoptosis; Mammalian target of rapamycin
16.  High glucose induces autophagy in podocytes 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(6):779-789.
Autophagy is a cellular pathway involved in protein and organelle degradation. It is relevant to many types of cellular homeostasis and human diseases. High level of glucose is known to inflict podocyte injury, but little is reported about the relationship between high concentrations of glucose and autophagy in these cells. The present study demonstrates that high glucose promotes autophagy in podocytes. Rapamycin further enhances this effect, but 3-methyadenine inhibits it. The proautophagic effect of high glucose manifested in the form of enhanced podocyte expression of LC3-2 and beclin-1; interestingly, antioxidants such as NAC were found to inhibit high glucose-induced autophagy. High glucose induced the generation of ROS by podocytes in a time-dependent manner. High glucose also enhanced podocyte expression of MnSOD and catalase. These findings indicate that high glucose-induced autophagy is mediated through podocyte ROS generation.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.01.018
PMCID: PMC3628680  PMID: 23384600
Autophagy; High glucose; Podocytes; Oxidative stress
17.  Morphine Induces Albuminuria by Compromising Podocyte Integrity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e55748.
Morphine has been reported to accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease. However, whether morphine affects slit diaphragm (SD), the major constituent of glomerular filtration barrier, is still unclear. In the present study, we examined the effect of morphine on glomerular filtration barrier in general and podocyte integrity in particular. Mice were administered either normal saline or morphine for 72 h, then urine samples were collected and kidneys were subsequently isolated for immunohistochemical studies and Western blot. For in vitro studies, human podocytes were treated with morphine and then probed for the molecular markers of slit diaphragm. Morphine-receiving mice displayed a significant increase in albuminuria and showed effacement of podocyte foot processes. In both in vivo and in vitro studies, the expression of synaptopodin, a molecular marker for podocyte integrity, and the slit diaphragm constituting molecules (SDCM), such as nephrin, podocin, and CD2-associated protein (CD2AP), were decreased in morphine-treated podocytes. In vitro studies indicated that morphine modulated podocyte expression of SDCM through opiate mu (MOR) and kappa (KOR) receptors. Since morphine also enhanced podocyte oxidative stress, the latter seems to contribute to decreased SDCM expression. In addition, AKT, p38, and JNK pathways were involved in morphine-induced down regulation of SDCM in human podocytes. These findings demonstrate that morphine has the potential to alter the glomerular filtration barrier by compromising the integrity of podocytes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055748
PMCID: PMC3612045  PMID: 23555556
18.  Angiotensin II induces nephrin dephosphorylation and podocyte injury: Role of caveolin-1 
Cellular signalling  2011;24(2):443-450.
Nephrin, an important structural and signal molecule of podocyte slit-diaphragm (SD), has been suggested to contribute to the angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced podocyte injury. Caveolin-1 has been demonstrated to play a crucial role in signaling transduction. In the present study, we evaluated the role of caveolin-1 in Ang II-induced nephrin phosphorylation in podocytes. Wistar rats-receiving either Ang II (400 ng/kg/min) or normal saline (via subcutaneous osmotic mini-pumps, control) were administered either vehicle or telmisartan (3 mg/kg/min) for 14 or 28 days. Blood pressure, 24-hour urinary albumin and serum biochemical profile were measured at the end of the experimental period. Renal histomorphology was evaluated through light and electron microscopy. In vitro, cultured murine podocytes were exposed to Ang II (10−6 M) pretreated with or without losartan (10−5 M) for variable time periods. Nephrin and caveolin-1 expression and their phosphorylation were analyzed by Western-blotting and immunofluorescence. Caveolar membrane fractions were isolated by sucrose density gradient centrifugation, and then the distribution and interactions between Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1), nephrin, C-terminal Src kinase (Csk) and caveolin-1 were evaluated using Western-blotting and co-immunoprecipitation. Podocyte apoptosis was evaluated by cell nucleus staining with Hoechst-33342.
Ang II-receiving rats displayed diminished phosphorylation of nephrin but enhanced glomerular/podocyte injury and proteinuria when compared to control rats. Under control conditions, podocyte displayed expression of caveolin-1 in abundance but only a low level of phospho moiety. Nonetheless, Ang II stimulated caveolin-1 phosphorylation without any change in total protein expression. Nephrin and caveolin-1 were co-localized in caveolae fractions. AT1 receptors and Csk were moved to caveolae fractions and had an interaction with caveolin-1 after the stimulation with Ang II. Transfection of caveolin-1 plasmid (pEGFPC3-cav-1) significantly increased Ang II-induced nephrin dephosphorylation and podocyte apoptosis. Furthermore, knockdown of caveolin-1 expression (using siRNA) inhibited nephrin dephosphorylation and prevented Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis. These findings indicate that Ang II induces nephrin dephosphorylation and podocyte injury through a caveolin-1-dependent mechanism.
doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2011.09.022
PMCID: PMC3237911  PMID: 21982880
Caveolin-1; Podocyte; Angiotensin II; Nephrin
19.  Disparate effects of eplerenone, amlodipine and telmisartan on podocyte injury in aldosterone-infused rats 
Background. Several studies in patients with primary aldosteronism (PA) have suggested that aldosterone (ALD) is directly contributing to albuminuria. However, there are limited data pertaining to the direct role of ALD in in vivo models in regard to the induction of renal injury and the involved mechanisms. In the present study, we established a high-dose ALD-infused rat model to evaluate urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER) and podocyte damage. Moreover, we studied the effect of eplerenone (EPL), telmisartan (TEL) and amlodipine (AML) on ALD-induced renal structural and functional changes.
Methods. Immunohistochemical and real-time PCR analyses, and TUNEL assays were performed to evaluate nephrin expression and podocyte injury.
Results. ALD-receiving rats (ARR) showed a progressive increase in BP, UAER and proteinuria when compared with control rats (CR). Conversely, BP was significantly reduced in ALD + EPL (A/ERR)-, ALD + AML (A/ARR)- and ALD + TEL (A/TRR)-treated rats. However, UAER and proteinuria were decreased only in A/ERR and A/TRR, but not in A/ARR. Only EPL administration provided protection against ALD-induced podocyte apoptosis. Renal tissue of ARR revealed enhanced expression of nephrin protein and mRNA. This effect of ALD was inhibited by EPL, but not by TEL or AML.
Conclusions. ALD induces direct glomerular injury independent of its haemodynamic effects; this effect of ALD is, at least in part, mediated through activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfq514
PMCID: PMC3108348  PMID: 20729265
aldosterone; amlodipine; eplerenone; podocyte; telmisartan
20.  HIV-1 Promotes Renal Tubular Epithelial Cell Protein Synthesis: Role of mTOR Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30071.
Tubular cell HIV-infection has been reported to manifest in the form of cellular hypertrophy and apoptosis. In the present study, we evaluated the role of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in the HIV induction of tubular cell protein synthesis. Mouse proximal tubular epithelial cells (MPTECs) were transduced with either gag/pol-deleted NL4-3 (HIV/MPTEC) or empty vector (Vector/MPTEC). HIV/MPTEC showed enhanced DNA synthesis when compared with Vector/MPTECs by BRDU labeling studies. HIV/MPTECs also showed enhanced production of β-laminin and fibronection in addition to increased protein content per cell. In in vivo studies, renal cortical sections from HIV transgenic mice and HIVAN patients showed enhanced tubular cell phosphorylation of mTOR. Analysis of mTOR revealed increased expression of phospho (p)-mTOR in HIV/MPTECs when compared to vector/MPTECs. Further downstream analysis of mTOR pathway revealed enhanced phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase and associated diminished phosphorylation of eEF2 (eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2) in HIV/MPTECs; moreover, HIV/MPTECs displayed enhanced phosphorylation of eIF4B (eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4B) and 4EBP-1 (eukaryotic 4E binding protein). To confirm our hypothesis, we evaluated the effect of rapamycin on HIV-induced tubular cell downstream signaling. Rapamycin not only attenuated phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase and associated down stream signaling in HIV/MPTECs but also inhibited HIV-1 induced tubular cell protein synthesis. These findings suggest that mTOR pathway is activated in HIV-induced enhanced tubular cell protein synthesis and contributes to tubular cell hypertrophy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030071
PMCID: PMC3253808  PMID: 22253885
21.  Activation of Notch signaling pathway in HIV-associated nephropathy 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(14):2161-2170.
Objective
HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is characterized by the development of glomerulosclerosis and is associated with glomerular epithelial cell proliferation. It has recently been shown that activation of the Notch signaling pathway in podocytes results in glomerulosclerosis and podocyte proliferation. To determine whether Notch signaling is involved in renal disorder associated with HIVAN, we evaluated the expression of Notch receptors in HIVAN.
Design
We evaluated the expression of the Notch signaling pathway using an HIV-transgenic (HIV-Tg) rat model of HIVAN, and biopsy samples from HIVAN and normal controls.
Methods
Paraffin sections and kidney lysates were used for immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and western blot analysis.
Results
A collapsing variant of glomerulosclerosis and focal segmental sclerosis was observed in HIV-Tg rats. Glomeruli of HIV-Tg rats demonstrated activation of Notch1 and Notch4, as determined by the presence of the intracellular domains. In addition, we observed increased expression of the Notch target protein, hairy enhancer of split homolog-1 in glomeruli of these animals. The expression of the Groucho homolog transducin-like enhancer protein 4, a Notch effector protein, and the homeodomain protein cut homeobox 1 were also significantly increased in glomeruli of HIV-Tg rats, and this was associated with decreased expression of the cyclin kinase inhibitor p27. Intriguingly, renal biopsy samples from HIVAN patients also showed upregulation of cleaved Notch1 and Notch4 in the glomeruli compared with the expression in normal kidneys.
Conclusion
Our results demonstrate activation of Notch signaling pathway in HIVAN, thereby underscoring its role in disease pathogenesis.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32833dbc31
PMCID: PMC3086691  PMID: 20706108
cut homeobox 1; glomerulosclerosis; HIV-associated nephropathy; Notch
22.  Aldosterone Induces Apoptosis in Rat Podocytes: Role of PI3-K/Akt and p38MAPK Signaling Pathways 
Nephron. Experimental nephrology  2009;113(1):e26-e34.
Background
Podocytes play a critical role in the pathogenesis of glomerulosclerosis. Increasing evidence suggests that aldosterone (ALD) is involved in the initiation and progression of glomerular damage. It is, however, unknown whether there is a direct injurious effect of ALD on podocytes. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated the effect of ALD on podocyte apoptosis and studied the role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PI3-K/Akt) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) signaling pathways in this process.
Methods
Podocytes were incubated in media containing either buffer or increasing concentrations of ALD (10–9∼10–5M) for variable time periods. The cells were also treated with either wortmannin (inhibitor of PI3-K, 100 nM), SB202190 (SB20, inhibitor of p38MAPK, 10 μM) or buffer. All treatments were performed with or without ALD (10–7M) for 24 h. At the end of the incubation period, apoptosis was evaluated by cell nucleus staining and flow cytometric analyses. Activation of PI3-K/Akt and p38MAPK phosphorylation of cultured rat podocytes was evaluated by performing Akt kinase assay and Western blot, respectively.
Results
Apoptosis of cultured rat podocytes was induced by ALD in a dose- and time-dependent manner. ALD inhibited the activity of PI3-K/Akt and increased the activation of p38MAPK. PI3-K/Akt activity was further inhibited by the addition of wortmannin to the cells in the presence of ALD. This was accompanied by a significant increase in apoptosis. ALD-induced p38MAPK phosphorylation and apoptosis were inhibited when the cells were pretreated with SB20. Furthermore, treatment with spironolactone not only attenuated the proapoptotic effect of ALD, but also significantly reversed its effects on PI3-K/Akt and p38MAPK signaling pathways.
Conclusion
ALD induces apoptosis in rat podocytes through inhibition of PI3-K/Akt and stimulation of p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Spironolactone attenuates ALD-induced podocyte apoptosis, thereby positioning this compound as a potential promising target of intervention in human renal damage.
doi:10.1159/000228080
PMCID: PMC2790761  PMID: 19590239
Aldosterone; Podocyte; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase; Apoptosis
23.  Angiotensin II Infusion Induces Nephrin Expression Changes and Podocyte Apoptosis 
American journal of nephrology  2008;28(3):500-507.
Background/Aim:
In in vitro studies, angiotensin (Ang) II has been demonstrated to promote podocyte apoptosis. The present study evaluates the effects of Ang II infusion in rats on podocyte nephrin expression and apoptosis and the molecular mechanisms involved in Ang II-induced proteinuria and mesangial expansion.
Methods:
Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to receive either normal saline or Ang II (400 ng·kg−1·min−1) by means of a mini-osmotic pump for variable time periods. Systolic blood pressure and urinary protein and albumin excretion rate measurements were carried out on days 7, 14, 21, and 28. The animals were sacrificed on days 14 and 28 and evaluated for serum creatinine, renal pathological changes, podocyte apoptosis, renal nephrin mRNA, and protein expression.
Results:
The Ang II-infused rats developed hypertension and proteinuria. On day 14, the Ang II-infused rats showed narrowing of the slit diaphragm, an increase in podocyte nephrin mRNA and protein expression, and alterations in its distribution along the foot processes. On day 28, the Ang II-infused rats demonstrated the presence of apoptotic podocytes and decreased nephrin mRNA and protein expression. There was a negative correlation between nephrin expression and the numbers of apoptotic podocytes (r = −0.63, p < 0.05).
Conclusion:
These results suggest that changes in nephrin expression may play a role in the pathogenesis of Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis.
doi:10.1159/000113538
PMCID: PMC2630486  PMID: 18204248
Angiotensin II; Proteinuria; Nephrin expression; Podocyte; Apoptosis
24.  Angiotensin II Infusion Induces Nephrin Expression Changes and Podocyte Apoptosis 
American Journal of Nephrology  2008;28(3):500-507.
Background/Aim
In in vitro studies, angiotensin (Ang) II has been demonstrated to promote podocyte apoptosis. The present study evaluates the effects of Ang II infusion in rats on podocyte nephrin expression and apoptosis and the molecular mechanisms involved in Ang II-induced proteinuria and mesangial expansion.
Methods
Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to receive either normal saline or Ang II (400 ng·kg–1·min–1) by means of a mini-osmotic pump for variable time periods. Systolic blood pressure and urinary protein and albumin excretion rate measurements were carried out on days 7, 14, 21, and 28. The animals were sacrificed on days 14 and 28 and evaluated for serum creatinine, renal pathological changes, podocyte apoptosis, renal nephrin mRNA, and protein expression.
Results
The Ang II-infused rats developed hypertension and proteinuria. On day 14, the Ang II-infused rats showed narrowing of the slit diaphragm, an increase in podocyte nephrin mRNA and protein expression, and alterations in its distribution along the foot processes. On day 28, the Ang II-infused rats demonstrated the presence of apoptotic podocytes and decreased nephrin mRNA and protein expression. There was a negative correlation between nephrin expression and the numbers of apoptotic podocytes (r = −0.63, p < 0.05).
Conclusion
These results suggest that changes in nephrin expression may play a role in the pathogenesis of Ang II-induced podocyte apoptosis.
doi:10.1159/000113538
PMCID: PMC2630486  PMID: 18204248
Angiotensin II; Proteinuria; Nephrin expression; Podocyte; Apoptosis
25.  Morphine Reciprocally Regulates IL-10 and IL-12 Production by Monocyte-Derived Human Dendritic Cells and Enhances T Cell Activation 
Molecular Medicine  2006;12(11-12):284-290.
We evaluated the effect of morphine on human dendritic cells (DCs). Interestingly, immature DCs were found to express all 3 (μ, κ, δ) opioid receptors on the cell surface. Chronic morphine treatment (10−8 to 10−12 M) during the development of DCs from monocytes augmented LPS-induced upregulation of HLA-DR, CD86, CD80, and CD83 and increased the T cell stimulatory capacity of DCs, which could be inhibited by naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist. The change in surface phenotype was paralleled by a p38 MAPK-dependent decrease in IL-10 and increase in IL-12 secretion. Our data indicate that morphine exerts an immunostimulatory effect by modulating LPS-induced DC maturation.
doi:10.2119/2006-00043.Messmer
PMCID: PMC1829197  PMID: 17380193

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