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Berberine ameliorates contrast-induced acute kidney injury by regulating HDAC4-FoxO3a axis-induced autophagy: In vivo and in vitro.

In hospitals, contrast-induced acute kidney injury (CI-AKI) is a major cause of renal failure. This study evaluates berberine's (BBR) renal protection and its potential HDAC4 mechanism. CI-AKI in rats was induced with 10 mL kg-1 ioversol. Rats were divided into five groups: Ctrl, BBR, CI-AKI, CI-AKI + BBR, and CI-AKI + Tasq. The renal function of CI-AKI rats was determined by measuring serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen. Histopathological changes and apoptosis of renal tubular epithelial cells were observed by HE and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdTase)-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. Transmission electron microscopy was used to observe autophagic structures. In vitro, a CI-AKI cell model was created with ioversol-treated HK-2 cells. Treatments included BBR, Rapa, HCQ, and Tasq. Analyses focused on proteins and genes associated with kidney injury, apoptosis, autophagy, and the HDAC4-FoxO3a axis. BBR showed significant protective effects against CI-AKI both in vivo and in vitro. It inhibited apoptosis by increasing Bcl-2 protein levels and decreasing Bax levels. BBR also activated autophagy, as indicated by changes in autophagy-related proteins and autophagic flux. The study further revealed that the contrast agent ioversol increased the expression of HDAC4, which led to elevated levels of phosphorylated FoxO3a (p-FoxO3a) and acetylated FoxO3a (Ac-FoxO3a). However, BBR inhibited HDAC4 expression, resulting in decreased levels of p-FoxO3a and Ac-FoxO3a. This activation of autophagy-related genes, regulated by the transcription factor FoxO3a, played a role in BBR's protective effects. BBR, a traditional Chinese medicine, shows promise against CI-AKI. It may counteract CI-AKI by modulating HDAC4 and FoxO3a, enhancing autophagy, and limiting apoptosis.

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