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Mol Med. 2011;17(11-12):1295-305. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2011.00131. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Endoplasmic reticulum stress implicated in the development of renal fibrosis.

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Department of Integrated Diagnostics and Therapeutics, National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-associated apoptosis plays a role in organ remodeling after insult. The effect of ER stress on renal tubular damage and fibrosis remains controversial. This study aims to investigate whether ER stress is involved in tubular destruction and interstitial fibrosis in vivo. Renal cell apoptosis was proven by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) stain and poly-ADP ribose polymerase expression in the unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) kidney. ER stress was evoked and confirmed by the upregulation of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) and the common Lys-Asp-Glu-Leu (KDEL) motif of ER retention proteins after UUO. ER stress-associated proapoptotic signals, including B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/lymphoma 2-associated × protein (BAX) expression, caspase-12 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation, were activated in the UUO kidney. Prolonged ER stress attenuated both unsplicing and splicing X-box binding protein 1 (XBP-1) protein expression, but continued to activate inositol-requiring 1α (IRE1α)-JNK phosphorylation, protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α subunit (eIF2α), activating transcription factor (ATF)-4, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) homologous protein (CHOP) and cleavage activating transcription factor 6 (cATF6)-CHOP signals, which induce ER stress-related apoptosis but attenuate adaptive unfolded protein responses in UUO kidneys. However, renal apoptosis and fibrosis were attenuated in candesartan-treated UUO kidney. Candesartan was associated with maintenance of XBP-1 expression and attenuated ATF4, cATF6 and CHOP protein expression. Taken together, results show that overwhelming ER stress leads to renal cell apoptosis and subsequent fibrosis; and candesartan, at least in part, restores renal integrity by blocking ER stress-related apoptosis. Reducing ER stress may present a way to attenuate renal fibrosis.

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