BACKGROUND - Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) expression increases extracellular matrix deposition and contributes to interstitial fibrosis in the kidney after injury. While PAI-1 is ubiquitously expressed in the kidney, we hypothesized that interstitial fibrosis is strongly dependent on fibroblast-specific PAI-1 (fbPAI-1).
METHODS - Tenascin C Cre (TNC Cre) and fbPAI-1 knockdown (KD) mice with green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed within the TNC construct underwent unilateral ureteral obstruction and were sacrificed 10 days later.
RESULTS - GFP+ cells in fbPAI-1 KD mice showed significantly reduced PAI-1 expression. Interstitial fibrosis, measured by Sirius red staining and collagen I western blot, was significantly decreased in fbPAI-1 KD compared with TNC Cre mice. There was no significant difference in transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) expression or its activation between the two groups. However, GFP+ cells from fbPAI-1 KD mice had lower TGF β and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression. The number of fibroblasts was decreased in fbPAI-1 KD compared with TNC Cre mice, correlating with decreased alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression and less fibroblast cell proliferation. TNC Cre mice had decreased E-cadherin, a marker of differentiated tubular epithelium, in contrast to preserved expression in fbPAI-1 KD. F4/80-expressing cells, mostly CD11c+/F4/80+ cells, were increased while M1 macrophage markers were decreased in fbPAI-1 KD compared with TNC Cre mice.
CONCLUSION - These findings indicate that fbPAI-1 depletion ameliorates interstitial fibrosis by decreasing fibroblast proliferation in the renal interstitium, with resulting decreased collagen I. This is linked to decreased M1 macrophages and preserved tubular epithelium.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA. All rights reserved.