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Telomerase deficiency delays renal recovery in mice after ischemia-reperfusion injury by impairing autophagy.

Authors: Huifang H. Cheng, Xiaofeng X. Fan, William E WE. Lawson, Paisit P. Paueksakon, Raymond C RC. Harris
Published: 03/11/2015, Kidney international


The aged population suffers increased morbidity and higher mortality in response to episodes of acute kidney injury (AKI). Aging is associated with telomere shortening, and both telomerase reverse transcriptase (TerT) and RNA (TerC) are essential to maintain telomere length. To define a role of telomerase deficiency in susceptibility to AKI, we used ischemia/reperfusion injury in wild-type mice or mice with either TerC or TerT deletion. Injury induced similar renal impairment at day 1 in each genotype, as assessed by azotemia, proteinuria, acute tubular injury score, and apoptotic tubular epithelial cell index. However, either TerC or TerT knockout significantly delayed recovery compared with wild-type mice. Electron microscopy showed increased autophagosome formation in renal tubular epithelial cells in wild-type mice but a significant delay of their development in TerC and TerT knockout mice. There were also impeded increases in the expression of the autophagosome marker LC3 II, prolonged accumulation of the autophagosome protein P62, an increase of the cell cycle regulator p16, and greater activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. The mTORC1 inhibitor, rapamycin, partially restored the ischemia/reperfusion-induced autophagy response, without a significant effect on either p16 induction or tubule epithelial cell proliferation. Thus, muting the maintenance of normal telomere length in mice impaired recovery from AKI, owing to an increase in tubule cell senescence and impairment of mTOR-mediated autophagy.

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