α1-Microglobulin (A1M) Protects Human Proximal Tubule Epithelial Cells from Heme-Induced Damage In Vitro
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Oxidative stress is associated with many renal disorders, both acute and chronic, and has also been described to contribute to the disease progression. Therefore, oxidative stress is a potential therapeutic target. The human antioxidant α1-microglobulin (A1M) is a plasma and tissue protein with heme-binding, radical-scavenging and reductase activities. A1M can be internalized by cells, localized to the mitochondria and protect mitochondrial function. Due to its small size, A1M is filtered from
... M is filtered from the blood into the glomeruli, and taken up by the renal tubular epithelial cells. A1M has previously been described to reduce renal damage in animal models of preeclampsia, radiotherapy and rhabdomyolysis, and is proposed as a pharmacological agent for the treatment of kidney damage. In this paper, we examined the in vitro protective effects of recombinant human A1M (rA1M) in human proximal tubule epithelial cells. Moreover, rA1M was found to protect against heme-induced cell-death both in primary cells (RPTEC) and in a cell-line (HK-2). Expression of stress-related genes was upregulated in both cell cultures in response to heme exposure, as measured by qPCR and confirmed with in situ hybridization in HK-2 cells, whereas co-treatment with rA1M counteracted the upregulation. Mitochondrial respiration, analyzed with the Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer, was compromised following exposure to heme, but preserved by co-treatment with rA1M. Finally, heme addition to RPTE cells induced an upregulation of the endogenous cellular expression of A1M, via activation of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-pathway. Overall, data suggest that A1M/rA1M protects against stress-induced damage to tubule epithelial cells that, at least partly, can be attributed to maintaining mitochondrial function.