Background: Osteopontin (OPN) is a phosphoprotein that is up-regulated in several experimental models of renal disease, including ischemia/reperfusion injury. OPN has been described as a macrophage chemoattractant, may serve as a survival factor for tubular cells, and is implicated in the development of tubulointerstitial fibrosis. However, the precise role of this protein in renal pathophysiology remains unclear.
Methods: OPN knockout and wild-type mice were subjected to 30 minutes of warm renal ischemia combined with a contralateral nephrectomy, and sacrificed at six different time points, ranging from 12 hours to seven days after reperfusion. Besides functional and morphological parameters of postischemic acute renal failure (ARF), macrophage infiltration, apoptosis and expression of collagen types I and IV were investigated.
Results: Postischemic ARF in OPN knockouts and wild-types showed a similar course and severity, without significant differences in either functional or morphological disease parameters. However, macrophage infiltration was significantly diminished in OPN knockouts after five and seven days, in cortex as well as in the outer stripe of the outer medulla (OSOM). Furthermore, OPN knockout mice showed significantly enhanced apoptosis in the injury phase and significantly less collagen I and IV expression in the regeneration phase of postischemic ARF.
Conclusions: There was no influence of OPN protein on the severity or course of functional impairment or morphological injury in the first seven days after an ischemic insult to the kidney. However, our results demonstrate that OPN favors macrophage recruitment to the postischemic kidney, inhibits apoptosis, and stimulates the development of renal fibrosis after an acute ischemic insult.