NOX4 is a potential therapeutic target in septic acute kidney injury by inhibiting mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation

Theranostics. 2023 May 8;13(9):2863-2878. doi: 10.7150/thno.81240. eCollection 2023.


Rationale: Sepsis is a severe clinical syndrome featured through organ dysfunction due to infection, while the accompanying acute kidney injury (AKI) is linked to significant incidence of morbidity as well as mortality. Recently, emerging evidence has revealed that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase 4 (NOX4) is implicated in various renal diseases, while its role and modulation in septic acute kidney injury (S-AKI) remains largely unknown. Methods: In vivo, S-AKI in wild-type and renal tubular epithelial cell (RTEC)-specific NOX4 knockout mice was induced by lipopolysaccharides (LPS) injection or cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). In vitro, TCMK-1 (mouse kidney tubular epithelium cell line) cells were treated with LPS. Serum and supernatant biochemical, mitochondrial dysfunctional, inflammatory and apoptotic parameters were measured and compared across groups. The activation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and NF-κB signaling was also assessed. Results: NOX4 was predominantly upregulated in RTECs of S-AKI mouse model induced by LPS/CLP and cultured TCMK-1 cells exposed to LPS. RTEC-specific deletion of NOX4 or pharmacological inhibition of NOX4 by GKT137831 both alleviated LPS/CLP-injured renal function and pathology in mice. Furthermore, NOX4 inhibition alleviated mitochondrial dysfunction supported by ultrastructural damage, reduction of ATP production and mitochondrial dynamics imbalance, together with inflammation and apoptosis in kidney injured by LPS/CLP and TCMK-1 cells injured by LPS, while NOX4 overexpression aggravated the above-mentioned indices in TCMK-1 cells with LPS stimulation. Mechanism-wise, the raised NOX4 in RTECs may induce ROS and NF-κB signaling activation in S-AKI. Conclusions: Collectively, genetic or pharmacological inhibition of NOX4 protects from S-AKI by reducing generation of ROS and activation of NF-κB signal, which suppress mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation together with apoptosis. NOX4 may act as a novel target for the S-AKI therapy.

Keywords: NOX4; Septic AKI; apoptosis; inflammation; mitochondrial dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / chemically induced
  • Acute Kidney Injury* / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sepsis* / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NF-kappa B
  • Lipopolysaccharides