Expression of EpCAM is up-regulated during regeneration of renal epithelia

J Pathol. 2008 Oct;216(2):201-8. doi: 10.1002/path.2396.


The human epithelial cell adhesion molecule (hEpCAM) is involved in epithelial morphogenesis and repair of epithelial tissues. We hypothesized that changes in hEpCAM expression in vivo correlate with regeneration of renal epithelia after ischaemia/reperfusion injury (IRi). Unilateral IRi was performed on kidneys of hEpCAM transgenic mice. Changes in hEpCAM expression were investigated by quantitative RT-PCR in renal cortex and medulla dissected by laser dissection microscopy and expression patterns of hEpCAM in regenerating kidneys were assessed by immunohistochemistry. The mechanism of hEpCAM promoter activation was investigated in vitro, by real-time bioluminescent imaging in HK-2 cells and in primary tubular epithelial cells (PTECs) subjected to hypoxia and reoxygenation. In vivo, the transcription of the human epcam gene significantly increased in the renal cortex during tubular re-epithelialization (p < 0.01). Moreover, the number of tubuli that expressed hEpCAM protein more than doubled in the renal cortex during regeneration. De novo expression of hEpCAM was detected in the S1 segments of proximal tubuli. Under hypoxic conditions in vitro, activity of the hEpCAM promoter was up-regulated two-fold in the HK-2 proximal epithelial cell line. Moreover, both in primary proximal epithelial cells and in HK-2 cells, hEpCAM protein expression was increased after hypoxia and reoxygenation. The significant up-regulation of hEpCAM during post-ischaemic renal regeneration in vivo and during in vitro hypoxia indicates that hEpCAM expression is associated with renal regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Regeneration*
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Up-Regulation*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • EPCAM protein, human
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule