Cellular and molecular studies on cisplatin-induced apoptotic cell death in rat kidney

Arch Toxicol. 2004 Mar;78(3):147-55. doi: 10.1007/s00204-003-0521-4. Epub 2003 Oct 10.


Using morphological and molecular approaches, we characterized cisplatin-induced cell necrosis and apoptosis in rat kidney. Male Sprague-Dawley rats ( n=5 per group) received a single intraperitoneal injection of either cisplatin (5 mg/kg) or saline, and were killed on day 5. Functionally, cisplatin-treated rats developed polyuric acute renal failure. Morphologically, kidneys of cisplatin-treated rats showed overt tubular necrosis associated with apoptosis in the corticomedullary junction. Cell necrosis was segment-specific and was distributed in radial fashion at the corticomedullary junction. The apoptosis was limited to discrete cells in apparently intact tubules in the vicinity of the necrosed tubules. The apoptotic changes were confirmed by TUNEL (TdT-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling) and staining for cleaved caspase-3. Analysis of outer medullary tissue for apoptosis-related molecules by RNase protection assay revealed a significant increase in the expression of pro-apoptotic mRNAs (caspases 1, 2, and 8, and Bax) in cisplatin-treated rats. On the other hand, the expression of mRNA for the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 did not change, resulting in a decrease in relative ratio of Bcl-2/Bax, and thus favoring apoptosis. The above changes were paralleled by a marked increase in caspase-3 precursor, the executioner protease. Furthermore, these pro-apoptotic molecular changes were associated with a 3-fold increase in the activity of JNK1 in the outer medulla, but not in the cortex, of cisplatin-treated rat kidneys, localizing to the site of maximal apoptosis. Upregulation of JNK1 activity in the outer medulla was not accompanied by changes in the activities of ERK or p38 kinase. In conclusion, these data suggest that cisplatin-induced apoptotic cell death in native kidney may be mediated by cooperative activation of the JNK1 pathway and Bax in the outer medulla.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspases / biosynthesis
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Cisplatin / toxicity*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Medulla / drug effects
  • Kidney Medulla / metabolism
  • Kidney Medulla / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Models, Animal
  • Necrosis
  • Platinum / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Platinum
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Caspases
  • Cisplatin