Stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor ameliorates glomerular injury sensitization after tubulointerstitial injury

Kidney Int. 2021 Mar;99(3):620-631. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2020.09.031. Epub 2020 Nov 1.


Previously, we found that mild tubulointerstitial injury sensitizes glomeruli to subsequent injury. Here, we evaluated whether stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor-α (HIF-α), a key regulator of tissue response to hypoxia, ameliorates tubulointerstitial injury and impact on subsequent glomerular injury. Nep25 mice, which express the human CD25 receptor on podocytes under control of the nephrin promotor and develop glomerulosclerosis when a specific toxin is administered were used. Tubulointerstitial injury, evident by week two, was induced by folic acid, and mice were treated with an HIF stabilizer, dimethyloxalylglycine or vehicle from week three to six. Uninephrectomy at week six assessed tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Glomerular injury was induced by podocyte toxin at week seven, and mice were sacrificed ten days later. At week six tubular injury markers normalized but with patchy collagen I and interstitial fibrosis. Pimonidazole staining, a hypoxia marker, was increased by folic acid treatment compared to vehicle while dimethyloxalylglycine stimulated HIF-2α expression and attenuated tubulointerstitial hypoxia. The hematocrit was increased by dimethyloxalylglycine along with downstream effectors of HIF. Tubular epithelial cell injury, inflammation and interstitial fibrosis were improved after dimethyloxalylglycine, with further reduced mortality, interstitial fibrosis, and glomerulosclerosis induced by specific podocyte injury. Thus, our findings indicate that hypoxia contributes to tubular injury and consequent sensitization of glomeruli to injury. Hence, restoring HIFs may blunt this adverse crosstalk of tubules to glomeruli.

Keywords: HIF; dimethyloxalylglycine; glomerulosclerosis; interstitial fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fibrosis
  • Hypoxia
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Kidney Diseases* / pathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Mice
  • Podocytes*


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit