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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2001 Oct;281(4):F693-706.

Rapamycin impairs recovery from acute renal failure: role of cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis of tubular cells.

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Renal Section, Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, 650 Albany St., Boston, MA 02118, USA.


The immunosuppressive effect of rapamycin is mediated by inhibition of interleukin-2-stimulated T cell proliferation. We report for the first time that rapamycin also inhibits growth factor-induced proliferation of cultured mouse proximal tubular (MPT; IC(50) ~1 ng/ml) cells and promotes apoptosis of these cells by impairing the survival effects of the same growth factors. On the basis of these in vitro data, we tested the hypothesis that rapamycin would impair recovery of renal function after ischemic acute renal failure induced in vivo by renal artery occlusion (RAO). Rats given daily injections of rapamycin or vehicle were subjected to RAO or sham surgery. Rapamycin had no effect on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of sham-operated animals. In rats subjected to RAO, GFR fell to comparable levels 1 day later in vehicle- and rapamycin-treated rats (0.25 +/- 0.08 and 0.12 +/- 0.05 ml. min(-1). 300 g(-1), respectively) (P = not significant). In vehicle-treated rats subjected to RAO, GFR increased to 0.61 +/- 0.08 ml. min(-1). 300 g(-1) on day 3 (P < 0.02 vs. day 1) and then rose further to 0.99 +/- 0.09 ml. min(-1). 300 g(-1) on day 4 (P < 0.02 vs. day 3). By contrast, GFR did not improve in rapamycin-treated rats subjected to RAO over the same time period. Rapamycin also increased apoptosis of tubular cells while markedly reducing their proliferative response after RAO. Furthermore, rapamycin inhibited activation of 70-kDa S6 protein kinase (p70(S6k)) in cultured MPT cells as well as in the renal tissue of rats subjected to RAO. We conclude that rapamycin severely impairs the recovery of renal function after ischemia-reperfusion injury. This effect appears to be due to the combined effects of increased tubular cell loss (via apoptosis) and profound inhibition of the regenerative response of tubular cells. These effects are likely mediated by inhibition of p70(S6k).

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