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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Nov;293(5):R1781-6. Epub 2007 Sep 12.

Increased expression of cyclooxygenase 2 contributes to aberrant renin production in connexin 40-deficient kidneys.

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Institute of Physiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


We previously found that deletion of connexin 40 (Cx40) causes a misdirection of renin-expressing cells from the media layer of afferent arterioles to the perivascular tissue, extraglomerular mesangium, and periglomerular and peritubular interstitium. The mechanisms underlying this aberrant renin expression are unknown. Here, we questioned the relevance of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) activity for aberrant renin expression in Cx40-deficient kidneys. We found that COX-2 mRNA levels were increased three-fold in the renal cortex of Cx40-deficient kidneys relative to wild-type (wt) kidneys. In wt kidneys, COX-2 immunoreactivity was minimally detected in the juxtaglomerular region, but renin expression was frequently associated with COX-2 immunoreactivity in Cx40-deficient kidneys. Treatment with COX-2 inhibitors for 1 wk lowered renin mRNA levels in wt kidneys by about 40%. In Cx40-deficient kidneys, basal renin mRNA levels were increased two-fold relative to wt kidneys, and these elevated mRNA levels were reduced to levels of untreated wt mice by COX-2 inhibitors. In parallel, renin immunoreactive areas were clearly reduced by COX-2 inhibitors such that renin expression vanished and decreased significantly in the periglomerular and peritubular extensions. Notably, COX-2 inhibitor treatment lowered plasma renin concentration (PRC) in wt kidneys by about 40% but did not affect the highly elevated PRC levels in Cx40-deficient mice. These findings suggest that aberrant renin-producing cells in Cx40-deficient kidneys express significant amounts of COX-2, which contribute to renin expression in these cells, in particular, those in the periglomerular and peritubular position. Apparently, these disseminated cells do not contribute to the enhanced renin secretion rates of Cx40-deficient kidneys.

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