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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Dec;23(12):1967-76. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2012040373. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

NADPH-oxidase 4 protects against kidney fibrosis during chronic renal injury.

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  • 1Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University Medical Center, 1 rue Michel Servet, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.


NADPH oxidases synthesize reactive oxygen species that may participate in fibrosis progression. NOX4 and NOX2 are NADPH oxidases expressed in the kidneys, with the former being the major renal isoform, but their contribution to renal disease is not well understood. Here, we used the unilateral urinary obstruction model of chronic renal injury to decipher the role of these enzymes using wild-type, NOX4-, NOX2-, and NOX4/NOX2-deficient mice. Compared with wild-type mice, NOX4-deficient mice exhibited more interstitial fibrosis and tubular apoptosis after obstruction, with lower interstitial capillary density and reduced expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor in obstructed kidneys. Furthermore, NOX4-deficient kidneys exhibited increased oxidative stress. With NOX4 deficiency, renal expression of other NOX isoforms was not altered but NRF2 protein expression was reduced under both basal and obstructed conditions. Concomitant deficiency of NOX2 did not modify the phenotype exhibited by NOX4-deficient mice after obstruction. NOX4 silencing in a mouse collecting duct (mCCD(cl1)) cell line increased TGF-β1-induced apoptosis and decreased NRF2 protein along with expression of its target genes. In addition, NOX4 silencing decreased hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and expression of its target genes in response to hypoxia. In summary, these results demonstrate that the absence of NOX4 promotes kidney fibrosis, independent of NOX2, through enhanced tubular cell apoptosis, decreased microvascularization, and enhanced oxidative stress. Thus, NOX4 is crucial for the survival of kidney tubular cells under injurious conditions.

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