Tempol, a superoxide dismutase mimetic agent, ameliorates cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity through alleviation of mitochondrial dysfunction in mice

PLoS One. 2014 Oct 1;9(10):e108889. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108889. eCollection 2014.


Background: Mitochondrial dysfunction is a crucial mechanism by which cisplatin, a potent chemotherapeutic agent, causes nephrotoxicity where mitochondrial electron transport complexes are shifted mostly toward imbalanced reactive oxygen species versus energy production. In the present study, the protective role of tempol, a membrane-permeable superoxide dismutase mimetic agent, was evaluated on mitochondrial dysfunction and the subsequent damage induced by cisplatin nephrotoxicity in mice.

Methods and findings: Nephrotoxicity was assessed 72 h after a single i.p. injection of cisplatin (25 mg/kg) with or without oral administration of tempol (100 mg/kg/day). Serum creatinine and urea as well as glucosuria and proteinuria were evaluated. Both kidneys were isolated for estimation of oxidative stress markers, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content and caspase-3 activity. Moreover, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation capacity, complexes I-IV activities and mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase (mNOS) protein expression were measured along with histological examinations of renal tubular damage and mitochondrial ultrastructural changes. Tempol was effective against cisplatin-induced elevation of serum creatinine and urea as well as glucosuria and proteinuria. Moreover, pretreatment with tempol notably inhibited cisplatin-induced oxidative stress and disruption of mitochondrial function by restoring mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, complexes I and III activities, mNOS protein expression and ATP content. Tempol also provided significant protection against apoptosis, tubular damage and mitochondrial ultrastructural changes. Interestingly, tempol did not interfere with the cytotoxic effect of cisplatin against the growth of solid Ehrlich carcinoma.

Conclusion: This study highlights the potential role of tempol in inhibiting cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity without affecting its antitumor activity via amelioration of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cisplatin
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Cyclic N-Oxides / pharmacology
  • Cyclic N-Oxides / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Spin Labels
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urea / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Cyclic N-Oxides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Spin Labels
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Urea
  • Creatinine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Cisplatin
  • tempol

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.