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BMC Nephrol. 2013 May 17;14:105. doi: 10.1186/1471-2369-14-105.

Bilirubin attenuates the renal tubular injury by inhibition of oxidative stress and apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Eulji General Hospital, Eulji University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Bilirubin (BIL) has been recognized as an endogenous antioxidant that shows a protective effect for cardiorenal diseases. We investigated whether administration of BIL had a protective effect on cyclosporine (CsA)-induced nephropathy (CIN), and examined the effects of BIL on the oxidative stress and apoptosis.


BIL was pretreated intraperitoneally three times for a week (60 mg/kg), and CsA was injected for 4 weeks (15 mg/kg/day, subcutaneous). Proximal tubular epithelial (HK2) cells were pretreated with 0.1mg/ml of BIL for 24 hours, and then treated with 20 μM of CsA for another 24 hours.


CsA induced marked increases in urine kidney injury molecule-1 (Kim-1) and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) concentrations (P < 0.05). BIL reduced urine Kim-1 in CIN (P < 0.05), while urine NGAL exhibited a decreasing tendency. In CsA-treated rat kidneys, the protein expression of NOX4 and p22phox was reduced by BIL (P < 0.05). BIL ameliorated CsA-induced arteriolopathy, tubulointerstitial fibrosis, tubular injury, and the apoptosis examined by TUNEL assay (P < 0.01). In HK2 cells, BIL reduced intracellular reactive oxygen species in CsA-treated cells. CsA increased the protein expression of bax, cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3 and the activity of caspase-3; however, the anti-apoptotic bcl-2 protein was reduced. These changes were recovered by BIL (P < 0.05).


The direct administration of BIL protected against CsA-induced tubular injury via inhibition of oxidative stress and apoptosis.

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