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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003 Dec;14(12):3278-87.

Differential expression of heme oxygenase-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor in cadaveric and living donor kidneys after ischemia-reperfusion.

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Departments of Internal Medicine, Surgery, and Pathology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The extent of graft damage after ischemia-reperfusion reflects the balance between deleterious events and protective factors. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may contribute to cytoprotection by their anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic properties. For investigating whether HO-1 and VEGF play a role in the adaptive response to ischemia-reperfusion injury after renal transplantation, kidney biopsies were analyzed from living (n = 45) and cadaveric (n = 16) donors, obtained at three time points: at the end of cold storage T(-1), after warm ischemia T(0), and after reperfusion T(+1). The mRNA expression levels of HO-1, VEGF(165), Bcl-2, Bax, and hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha were quantified by real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR, and the HO-1 and VEGF proteins were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Cadaveric donor kidneys presented higher mRNA expression levels of hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha. In contrast, mRNA expression levels of HO-1, VEGF(165), and Bcl-2 were significantly lower in kidneys from cadaveric donors. Overall, a significant correlation was observed between mRNA expression of Bcl-2 and VEGF(165), between Bcl-2 and HO-1, and between HO-1 and VEGF(165). Moreover, protein expression of HO-1 and VEGF was detected in the same anatomical kidney compartments (glomerulus, arteries, and distal tubules). Renal function at the first week posttransplantation (analyzed by serum creatinine levels) showed a significant correlation with both HO-1 and VEGF mRNA expression, reinforcing the protective role of both genes in the early events of transplantation. It is concluded that the lower expression of HO-1, VEGF(165), and Bcl-2 in cadaveric donor kidneys can reflect a defective adaptation against ischemia-reperfusion injury that may affect their function in the short term.

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