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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Jan 15;162(2):132-41.

Oxalate toxicity in renal epithelial cells: characteristics of apoptosis and necrosis.

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Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA.


Studies in various tissues, including the kidney, have demonstrated that toxins elicit apoptosis under certain conditions and necrosis under others. The nature of the response has important consequences for the injured tissue in that necrotic cells elicit inflammatory responses, whereas apoptotic cells do not. Thus, there has been considerable interest in defining the mode of cell death elicited by known cytotoxins. The present studies examined the response of renal epithelial cells to oxalate, a metabolite excreted by the kidney that produces oxidant stress and death of renal cells at pathophysiological concentrations. These studies employed LLC-PK1 cells, a renal epithelial cell line from pig kidney and NRK-52E (NRK) cells, a line from normal rat kidney, and compared the effects of oxalate with those of known apoptotic agents. Changes in cellular and nuclear morphology, in nuclear size, in ceramide production, and in DNA integrity were assessed. The ability of bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic gene product, to attenuate oxalate toxicity was also assessed. These studies indicated that oxalate-induced death of renal epithelial cells exhibits several features characteristic of apoptotic cell death, including increased production of ceramide, increased abundance of apoptotic bodies, and marked sensitivity to the level of expression of the anti-apoptotic gene bcl-2. Oxalate-induced cell death also exhibits several characteristics of necrotic cell death in that the majority of the cells exhibited cellular and nuclear swelling after oxalate treatment and showed little evidence of DNA cleavage by TUNEL assay. These results suggest that toxic concentrations of oxalate trigger both forms of cell death in renal epithelial cells.

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