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Novel mitophagy inducer alleviates lupus nephritis by reducing myeloid cell activation and autoantigen presentation.

Kidney International 2024 January 30
Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but its mechanism of onset remains unclear. Since impaired mitophagy has been implicated in multiple organs in SLE, we hypothesized that mitophagy dysfunction is critical in the development of LN and that pharmacologically targeting mitophagy would ameliorate this disease. Therefore, lupus-prone MRL/MpJ-Faslpr (MRL/lpr) and NZBWF1/J mice were treated with a novel mitophagy inducer, UMI-77, during their onset of LN. This treatment effectively mitigated kidney inflammation and damage as assessed by histology and flow cytometry. Furthermore, dendritic cell (DC)-T cell coculture assay indicated that UMI-77 treatment attenuated DC function that would drive T cell proliferation but did not directly influence the potent T cell proliferation in lupus mice. UMI-77 also restored mitochondrial function and attenuated proinflammatory phenotypes in lupus DCs. Adoptive transfer of DCs from MRL/lpr mice augmented serum anti-dsDNA IgG, urine protein and T cell infiltration of the kidney in MRL/MpJ mice, which could be prevented by either treating lupus donors in vivo or lupus DCs directly with UMI-77. UMI-77 also restored mitochondrial function in myeloid cells from patients with LN in vitro as evidenced by increased ATP levels. Thus, enhancing mitophagy in SLE restrains autoimmunity and limits kidney inflammation for LN development. Hence, our findings suggest targeting mitophagy as a tangible pathway to treat LN.

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