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PLoS One. 2013 May 8;8(5):e63799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063799. Print 2013.

Rapamycin upregulates autophagy by inhibiting the mTOR-ULK1 pathway, resulting in reduced podocyte injury.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Kidney Diseases, Department of Nephrology, PLA General Hospital and Military Medical Postgraduate College, Beijing, China.

Abstract

The podocyte functions as a glomerular filtration barrier. Autophagy of postmitotic cells is an important protective mechanism that is essential for maintaining the homeostasis of podocytes. Exploring an in vivo rat model of passive Heymann nephritis and an in vitro model of puromycin amino nucleotide (PAN)-cultured podocytes, we examined the specific mechanisms underlying changing autophagy levels and podocyte injury. In the passive Heymann nephritis model rats, the mammalian target-of-rapamycin (mTOR) levels were upregulated in injured podocytes while autophagy was inhibited. In PAN-treated podocytes, mTOR lowered the level of autophagy through the mTOR-ULK1 pathway resulting in damaged podocytes. Rapamycin treatment of these cells reduced podocyte injury by raising the levels of autophagy. These in vivo and in vitro experiments demonstrate that podocyte injury is associated with changes in autophagy levels, and that rapamycin can reduce podocyte injury by increasing autophagy levels via inhibition of the mTOR-ULK1 pathway. These results provide an important theoretical basis for future treatment of diseases involving podocyte injury.

PMID:
23667674
PMCID:
PMC3648526
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0063799
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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