BACKGROUND - Tubulointerstitial inflammation and fibrosis are pathologic hallmarks of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Here we have used DNA microarray technology to monitor the transcriptomic responses to murine unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) with a view to identifying molecular modulators of tubulointerstitial fibrosis.
METHODS - Using Affymetrix Mu74Av2 microarrays, gene expression 4 and 10 days postobstruction was investigated relative to control contralateral kidneys. Candidate profibrogenic genes were further investigated in epithelial cells undergoing epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro.
RESULTS - mRNA levels for 1091 gene/EST sequences, of a total of 12,488 displayed on the microarray, were altered twofold or greater by days 4 and 10 postobstruction compared to contralateral control kidneys. Genes were categorised into functional groups, including modulators of cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix metabolism, cell growth, signalling, and transcription/translational events. Among the potentially profibrogenic genes, whose mRNA levels were increased after UUO, were fibroblast-inducible secreted protein (fisp-12), the murine homologue of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), collagen XVIIIalpha1, secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC), and src-suppressed C-kinase substrate (SSeCKS). A sustained increase in fisp-12 mRNA level was observed during EMT induced by transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) and epidermal growth factor (EGF).
CONCLUSION - Altered gene expression in murine UUO has been demonstrated. Increased expression of fisp-12, SPARC, and SSeCKS has been shown in response to TGF-beta1 treatment and during EMT, suggesting that these genes may offer potential therapeutic targets against tubulointerstitial fibrosis.