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Am J Nephrol. 2014;39(6):528-35. doi: 10.1159/000362905. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Renal sodium transporters are increased in urinary exosomes of cyclosporine-treated kidney transplant patients.

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Molecular Biology Laboratory, Fundació Puigvert, Barcelona, Spain.



Cyclosporine (CsA) is a calcineurin inhibitor widely used as an immunosuppressant in organ transplantation. Previous studies demonstrated the relationship between CsA and renal sodium transporters such as the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter in the loop of Henle (NKCC2). Experimental models of CsA-induced hypertension have shown an increase in renal NKCC2.


Using immunoblotting of urinary exosomes, we investigated in CsA-treated kidney transplant patients (n = 39) the excretion of NKCC2 and Na-Cl cotransporter (NCC) and its association with blood pressure (BP) level. We included 8 non-CsA-treated kidney transplant patients as a control group. Clinical data, immunosuppression and hypertension treatments, blood and 24-hour urine tests, and 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring were recorded.


CsA-treated patients tended to excrete a higher amount of NKCC2 than non-CsA-treated patients (mean ± SD, 175 ± 98 DU and 90 ± 70.3 DU, respectively; p = 0.05) and showed higher BP values (24-hour systolic BP 138 ± 17 mm Hg and 112 ± 12 mm Hg, p = 0.003; 24-hour diastolic BP, 83.8 ± 9.8 mm Hg and 72.4 ± 5.2 mm Hg, p = 0.015, respectively). Within the CsA-treated group, there was no correlation between either NKCC2 or NCC excretion and BP levels. This was confirmed by a further analysis including potential confounding factors. On the other hand, a significant positive correlation was observed between CsA blood levels and the excretion of NKCC2 and NCC.


Overall, these results support the hypothesis that CsA induces an increase in NKCC2 and NCC in urinary exosomes of renal transplant patients. The fact that the increase in sodium transporters in urine did not correlate with the BP level suggests that in kidney transplant patients, other mechanisms could be implicated in CsA-induced hypertension.

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