|Kidney pericyte hypoxia-inducible factor regulates erythropoiesis but not kidney fibrosis
|erythropoietin; fibrosis; hypoxia-inducible factor; pericyte
|ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC
Prolyl hydroxylase domain enzyme (PHD) inhibitors are effective in the treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD)-associated anemia by stabilizing hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), thereby increasing erythropoietin and consequently erythropoiesis. However, concern for CKD progression needs to be addressed in clinical trials. Although pre-clinical studies showed an anti-inflammatory effect in kidney disease models, the effect of PHD inhibitors on kidney fibrosis was inconsistent probably because the effects of HIF are cell type and context dependent. The major kidney erythropoietin-producing cells are pericytes that produce erythropoietin through HIF-2α-dependent gene transcription. The concern for the impact of HIF in pericytes on kidney fibrosis arises from the fact that pericytes are the major precursor cells of myofibroblasts in CKD. Since cells expressing Gli1 fulfill the morphologic and anatomic criteria for pericytes, we induced Gli1+ cell-specific HIF stabilization or knockout to study the impact of HIF in pericytes on kidney pathology of mice with or without fibrotic injury induced by unilateral ureteral obstruction. Compared with the littermate controls, mice with pericyte-specific HIF stabilization due to von Hippel-Lindau protein or PHD2 knockout showed increased serum erythropoietin and polycythemia rather than a discernible difference in kidney fibrosis. Compared with Gli1+ pericytes sorted from littermate controls, Gli1+ pericytes sorted from PHD2 knockout mice showed increased erythropoietin gene expression rather than discernible changes in Col1a1 or Acta2 expression. Furthermore, pericyte-specific knockout of HIF-1α or HIF-2α did not affect kidney fibrosis. Thus, our study supports the absence of negative effects of PHD inhibitors on kidney fibrosis of mice despite HIF stabilization in pericytes.
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