Endoplasmic reticulum stress mediates aristolochic acid I-induced apoptosis in human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells

Shaohua Zhu, Yan Wang, Jing Jin, Cuiwen Guan, Mei Li, Chen Xi, Zizhang Ouyang, Meiwan Chen, Yuwen Qiu, Min Huang, Zhiying Huang
Toxicology in Vitro: An International Journal Published in Association with BIBRA 2012, 26 (5): 663-71
Aristolochic acid (AA), derived from the Aristolochia species, has been associated with aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN), which has emerged as a worldwide disease. Aristolochic acid I (AAI) is the main ingredient of AA, and the underlying mechanisms for AAI-induced nephrotoxicity are still unclear. In this study, we investigated whether endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was involved in AAI-induced nephrotoxicity. The results showed that treatment of HK-2 cells (a human proximal tubular epithelial cell line) with AAI caused an increase in eukaryotic initiation factor-2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation, X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1) mRNA splicing and the expression of glucose-regulated protein (GRP) 78 and CAAT/enhancer-binding protein-homologous protein (CHOP). These events represent typical markers of the ER stress-related signaling pathway. Pretreatment with 4-phenylbutyrate (4-PBA) or salubrinal (Sal) significantly inhibited AAI-induced apoptosis, indicating the role of ER stress in AAI-induced apoptosis. In addition, AAI-induced cell death followed an increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation in HK-2 cells. Pretreatment with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or glutathione (GSH) significantly inhibited AAI-induced ER stress proteins and cell death, suggesting that ROS mediate AAI-induced ER stress. Taken together, these results suggest that the ER stress response is involved in apoptosis induced by AAI in HK-2 cells, thus offering a new insight into the nephrotoxicity of AAI.

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