Author(s): Higgins DF, Kimura K, Bernhardt WM, Shrimanker N, Akai Y,
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Abstract Hypoxia has been proposed as an important microenvironmental factor in the development of tissue fibrosis; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well defined. To examine the role of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), a key mediator of cellular adaptation to hypoxia, in the development of fibrosis in mice, we inactivated Hif-1alpha in primary renal epithelial cells and in proximal tubules of kidneys subjected to unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) using Cre-loxP-mediated gene targeting. We found that Hif-1alpha enhanced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro and induced epithelial cell migration through upregulation of lysyl oxidase genes. Genetic ablation of epithelial Hif-1alpha inhibited the development of tubulointerstitial fibrosis in UUO kidneys, which was associated with decreased interstitial collagen deposition, decreased inflammatory cell infiltration, and a reduction in the number of fibroblast-specific protein-1-expressing (FSP-1-expressing) interstitial cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that increased renal HIF-1alpha expression is associated with tubulointerstitial injury in patients with chronic kidney disease. Thus, we provide clinical and genetic evidence that activation of HIF-1 signaling in renal epithelial cells is associated with the development of chronic renal disease and may promote fibrogenesis by increasing expression of extracellular matrix-modifying factors and lysyl oxidase genes and by facilitating EMT.
This article was published in J Clin Invest
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology