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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 Jan 1;302(1):F183-91. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00407.2011. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

INK4a deletion results in improved kidney regeneration and decreased capillary rarefaction after ischemia-reperfusion injury.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, USA.


The molecular mechanisms that lead to tubular atrophy, capillary loss, and fibrosis following acute kidney injury are not very clear but may involve cell cycle inhibition by increased expression of cyclin kinase inhibitors. The INK4a/ARF locus encodes overlapping genes for two proteins, a cyclin kinase inhibitor, p16(INK4a), and a p53 stabilizer, p19(ARF), from independent promoters. To determine if decreased INK4a gene expression results in improved kidney regeneration, INK4a knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice were subjected to ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). p16(INK4a) and p19(ARF) levels were increased markedly in WT mice at 1-28 days after injury. Kidneys were examined to determine the localization and levels of p16(INK4a), apoptosis, cell proliferation, and capillary rarefaction. KO mice displayed decreased tubular cell apoptosis, increased cell proliferation, and lower creatinine levels after injury. KO mice had significantly higher capillary density compared with WT mice at 14-42 days after IRI. Plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) increased after ischemia in both WT and KO mice and was elevated markedly in KO compared with WT mice. KO kidney digests contained higher counts of Gr-1(+)/Cd11b(+) myeloid cells by flow cytometry. KO mice treated with a Gr-1-depleting antibody displayed reduced vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA, plasma G-CSF, and capillary density, and an increase in serum creatinine and medullary myofibroblasts, compared with untreated KO mice 14 days after ischemia. The anti-angiogenic effect of Gr-1 depletion in KO mice was confirmed by Matrigel angiogenesis assays. These results suggest that the absence of p16(INK4a) and p19(ARF) following IRI has a protective effect on the kidney through improved epithelial and microvascular repair, in part by enhancing the mobilization of myeloid cells into the kidney.

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