2Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119992 Moscow, Russia
3Kulakov National Medical Research Center of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology, 117997 Moscow, Russia
4Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Institute of Molecular Medicine, 119991 Moscow, Russia
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received June 24, 2019; Revised July 12, 2019; Accepted July 12, 2019
Autophagy plays an important role in the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury (AKI). Although autophagy activation was shown to be associated with an increased lifespan and beneficial effects in various pathologies, the impact of autophagy activators, particularly, rapamycin and its analogues on AKI remains obscure. In our study, we explored the effects of rapamycin treatment in in vivo and in vitro models of ischemic and cisplatin-induced AKI. The impact of rapamycin on the kidney function after renal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) or exposure to the nephrotoxic agent cisplatin was assessed by quantifying blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine and evaluating the content of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, a novel biomarker of AKI. In vitro experiments were performed on the primary culture of renal tubular cells (RTCs) that were subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) or incubated with cisplatin under various rapamycin treatment protocols. Cell viability and proliferation were estimated by the MTT assay and real-time cell analysis using an RTCA iCELLigence system. Although rapamycin inhibited mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling, it failed to enhance the autophagy and to ameliorate the severity of AKI caused by ischemia or cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. Experiments with RTCs demonstrated that rapamycin exhibited the anti-proliferative effect in primary RTCs cultures but did not protect renal cells exposed to OGD or cisplatin. Our study revealed for the first time that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin did not prevent AKI caused by renal I/R or cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and, therefore, cannot be considered as an ideal mimetic of the autophagy-associated nephroprotective mechanisms (e.g., those induced by caloric restriction), as it had been suggested earlier. The protective action of such approaches like caloric restriction might not be limited to mTOR inhibition and can proceed through more complex mechanisms involving alternative autophagy-related targets. Thus, the use of rapamycin and its analogues for the treatment of various AKI forms requires further studies in order to understand potential protective or adverse effects of these compounds in different contexts.
KEY WORDS: rapamycin, acute kidney injury, ischemia, cisplatin, renal tubular cells, autophagy, nephroprotection