Nephrotoxin-Induced Renal Cell Injury Involving Biochemical Alterations and Its Prevention With Antioxidant

Andrew I. Fishman, Bobby Alexander, Majid Eshghi, Muhammad Choudhury, Sensuke Konno


Background: Although nephrotoxic agents or nephrotoxins are known to induce acute renal cell injury, their cytotoxic action is not fully elucidated. It is thus crucial to explore such a cytotoxic mechanism and the increasing volume of reports indicated a significant involvement of oxidative stress. To test this possibility, we investigated if a nephrotoxin would exert oxidative stress, leading to renal cell injury accompanied by certain biochemical alterations. We also examined if specific antioxidant might help prevent such oxidative cell injury. These studies may then help establish a prophylactic or preventive modality for renal cell injury induced by nephrotoxins.

Methods: As glycerol has been commonly used for studying acute renal failure in animals, whether it would induce cellular injury was tested in renal proximal tubular OK cells in vitro. Cells were exposed to the varying concentrations of glycerol and cell number/viability was determined in 24 hours. Severity of oxidative stress was assessed by lipid peroxidation assay. Possible effects of glycerol on biochemical parameters were also examined on glyoxalase I activity and heat shock protein 90 using spectrophotometric (enzymatic) assay and Western blot analysis.

Results: Glycerol (2.5%) was highly cytotoxic to OK cells, inducing 95% cell death in 24 hours. Lipid peroxidation assay indicated that nearly 3-fold greater oxidative stress was exerted by this glycerol. Concurrently, glyoxalase I activity was drastically lost by 75% and heat shock protein 90 was partially degraded following glycerol exposure. However, N-acetylcysteine, a potent glutathione-based antioxidant, was capable of almost completely preventing the glycerol-mediated adverse outcomes, such as cell death, glyoxalase I inactivation, and heat shock protein 90 degradation.

Conclusions: Glycerol is cytotoxic, capable of inducing specific biochemical alterations such as inactivation of glyoxalase I and degradation of heat shock protein 90, which may reflect a breakdown of the cellular detoxification and defense systems, leading ultimately to OK cell death. Nevertheless, as N-acetylcysteine can provide full cytoprotection against such glycerol toxicity, it could be considered a prophylactic modality for nephrotoxin-induced oxidative renal cell injury and death.



Glycerol; Glyoxalase I; Heat shock protein; N-acetylcysteine; Renal cell injury

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