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Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Dec 5;696(1-3):143-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2012.09.010. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Involvement of autophagy in the pharmacological effects of the mTOR inhibitor everolimus in acute kidney injury.

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Department of Pharmacy, Kyoto University Hospital, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


Inhibitors of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) have immunosuppressive and anti-cancer effects, but their effects on the progression of kidney disease are not fully understood. Using cells from normal kidney epithelial cell lines, we found that the antiproliferative effects of mTOR inhibitor everolimus accompanied the accumulation of a marker for cellular autophagic activity, the phosphatidylethanolamine-conjugated form of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3-II) in cells. We also showed that the primary autophagy factor UNC-51-like kinase 1 was involved in the antiproliferative effects of everolimus. Levels of LC3-II decreased in the kidneys of rats treated with ischemia-reperfusion or cisplatin; however, renal LC3-II levels increased after administration of everolimus to rats subjected to ischemia-reperfusion or cisplatin treatment. Simultaneously, increased signals for kidney injury molecule-1 and single-stranded DNA and decreased signals for Ki-67 in the proximal tubules were observed after treatment with everolimus, indicating that everolimus diminished renal function after acute tubular injury. We also found leakage of LC3 protein into rat urine after treatment with everolimus, and urinary LC3 protein was successfully measured between 0.1 and 500ng/mL by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Urinary LC3 levels were increased after administration of everolimus to rats subjected to ischemia-reperfusion or cisplatin treatment, suggesting that renal LC3-II and urinary LC3 protein are new biomarkers for autophagy in acute kidney injury. Taken together, our results demonstrated that the induction of autophagy by everolimus aggravates tubular dysfunction during recovery from kidney injury.

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