Mitochondrial Protection Partly Mitigates Kidney Cellular Senescence in Swine Atherosclerotic Renal Artery Stenosis

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2019;52(3):617-632. doi: 10.33594/000000044.


Background/aims: Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (ARAS) may cause kidney injury and mitochondrial dysfunction, which is linked to cellular senescence. Elamipretide, a mitochondria-targeted peptide, improves renal function in ARAS, but whether it alleviates senescence is unknown. We hypothesized that elamipretide would reduce senescence stenotic kidney (STK) in ARAS.

Methods: Domestic pigs were randomized to control and unilateral ARAS untreated or treated with subcutaneous elamipretide (5d/wk) for 4 weeks starting after 6 weeks of ARAS or sham (n=6 each). After completion of treatment, STK renal blood flow (RBF) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) were assessed in-vivo using multi-detector computed-tomography. Renal fibrosis and oxidative stress were analyzed in trichrome- and dihydroethidium-stained slides, respectively. Mitochondrial markers involved in the electrontransport chain (COX4, ATP/ADP ratio), biogenesis (PGC1α, PPARα), dynamics (MFN2, DRP1), and mitophagy (parkin, p62) were measured in the kidney using ELISA, western-blot, and immunohistochemistry. Cellular senescence (senescence-associated β-galactosidase and heterochromatin foci, phosphorylated-H2AX, and p16/21/53) and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP; PAI-1, MCP-1, TGFβ, and TNFα) markers were studied by microscopy, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and western-blot.

Results: Blood pressure was elevated whereas STK-RBF and GFR were decreased in ARAS pigs, and tissue scarring was increased. ARAS induced STK cellular senescence and accumulated dysfunctional mitochondria, which were associated with cardiolipin loss, upregulated mitochondrial biogenesis, and defective mitophagy. Elamipretide normalized STK-RBF and GFR, alleviated fibrosis and oxidative stress, and restored mitochondrial cardiolipin, biogenesis, and mitophagy in ARAS, but did not change SASP markers, and attenuated only senescenceassociated β-galactosidase activity and p53 gene expression.

Conclusion: Mitochondrial protection improved renal function and fibrosis in the ARAS STK, but only partly mitigated cellular senescence. This finding suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction may not be a major determinant of cellular senescence in the early stage of ARAS.

Keywords: Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis; Elamipretide; Mitochondria; Senescence.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism
  • Cellular Senescence* / drug effects
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitophagy / drug effects
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology
  • Oligopeptides / therapeutic use
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism
  • Renal Artery Obstruction / drug therapy
  • Renal Artery Obstruction / metabolism
  • Renal Artery Obstruction / pathology*
  • Renal Circulation / drug effects
  • Swine
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Cardiolipins
  • Oligopeptides
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • arginyl-2,'6'-dimethyltyrosyl-lysyl-phenylalaninamide
  • Creatinine
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • parkin protein