Burlaka I, Nilsson LM, Scott L, Holtbäck U, Eklöf AC, Fogo AB, Brismar H, Aperia A
Kidney Int. 90 (1) 135-148 [2016-07-00; online 2016-05-25]
There is a great need for treatment that arrests progression of chronic kidney disease. Increased albumin in urine leads to apoptosis and fibrosis of podocytes and tubular cells and is a major cause of functional deterioration. There have been many attempts to target fibrosis, but because of the lack of appropriate agents, few have targeted apoptosis. Our group has described an ouabain-activated Na,K-ATPase/IP3R signalosome, which protects from apoptosis. Here we show that albumin uptake in primary rat renal epithelial cells is accompanied by a time- and dose-dependent mitochondrial accumulation of the apoptotic factor Bax, down-regulation of the antiapoptotic factor Bcl-xL and mitochondrial membrane depolarization. Ouabain opposes these effects and protects from apoptosis in albumin-exposed proximal tubule cells and podocytes. The efficacy of ouabain as an antiapoptotic and kidney-protective therapeutic tool was then tested in rats with passive Heymann nephritis, a model of proteinuric chronic kidney disease. Chronic ouabain treatment preserved renal function, protected from renal cortical apoptosis, up-regulated Bax, down-regulated Bcl-xL, and rescued from glomerular tubular disconnection and podocyte loss. Thus we have identified a novel clinically feasible therapeutic tool, which has the potential to protect from apoptosis and rescue from loss of functional tissue in chronic proteinuric kidney disease.