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Kidney Int. 2000 Dec;58(6):2351-66.

Hypoxia promotes fibrogenesis in human renal fibroblasts.

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1
Department of Medicine, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, United Kingdom. rmhajtn@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The mechanisms underlying progressive renal fibrosis are unknown, but the common association of fibrosis and microvascular loss suggests that hypoxia per se may be a fibrogenic stimulus.

METHODS:

To determine whether human renal fibroblasts (HRFs), the primary matrix-producing cells in the tubulointerstitium, possess oxygen-sensitive responses relevant to fibrogenesis, cells were exposed to 1% O2 in vitro.

RESULTS:

Hypoxia simultaneously stimulated extracellular matrix synthesis and suppressed turnover with increased production of collagen alpha1(I) (Coll-I), decreased expression of collagenase, and increased tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1. These effects are time dependent, require new RNA and protein synthesis, and are specific to hypoxia. The changes in Coll-I and TIMP-1 gene expression involve a heme-protein O2 sensor and protein kinase- and tyrosine kinase-mediated signaling. Although hypoxia induced transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), neutralizing anti-TGF-beta1-antibody did not block hypoxia-induced Coll-I and TIMP-1 mRNA expression. Furthermore, hypoxic-cell conditioned-medium had no effect on the expression of these mRNAs in naive fibroblasts, suggesting direct effects on gene transcription. Transient transfections identified a hypoxia response element (HRE) in the TIMP-1 promoter and demonstrated HIF-1-dependent promoter activation by decreased ambient pO2.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that hypoxia co-ordinately up-regulates matrix production and decreases turnover in renal fibroblasts. The results support a role for hypoxia in the pathogenesis of fibrosis and provide evidence for novel, direct hypoxic effects on the expression of genes involved in fibrogenesis.

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