1. Department of Nephrology, the Key Laboratory for the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease of Chongqing, Kidney Center of PLA, Xinqiao Hospital, Army Medical University (Third Military Medical University), Chongqing, 400037, China.
2. Institute of Combined Injury, State Key Laboratory of Trauma, Burns and Combined Injury, Chongqing Engineering Research Center for Nanomedicine, College of Preventive Medicine, Army Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China.
3. Department of Oncology and Southwest Cancer Center, Southwest Hospital, Army Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China.
Rationale: The dysfunctional gut-kidney axis forms a vicious circle, which eventually becomes a catalyst for the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and occurrence of related complications. However, the pathogenic factors of CKD-associated intestinal dysfunction and its mechanism remain elusive.
Methods: We first identified the protein-bound uremic toxin indoxyl sulfate (IS) as a possible contributor to intestinal barrier injury. Transepithelial electrical resistance, permeability assay and transmission electron microscopy were carried out to evaluate the damaging effect of IS on intestinal barrier in intestinal epithelial cells, IS-injected mice and CKD mice. In vitro and in vivo experiments were performed to investigate the role of IS in intestinal barrier injury and the underlying mechanism. Finally, CKD mice treated with AST-120 (an oral adsorbent for IS) and gene knockout mice were used to verify the mechanism and to explore possible interventions for IS-induced intestinal barrier injury.
Results: Transepithelial electrical resistance and the expressions of tight junction-related genes were significantly suppressed by IS in intestinal epithelial cells. In vitro experiments demonstrated that IS inhibited the expression of dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1) and mitophagic flux, whereas DRP1 overexpression attenuated IS-induced mitophagic inhibition and intestinal epithelial cell damage. Furthermore, IS suppressed DRP1 by upregulating the expression of interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), and IRF1 could directly bind to the promoter region of DRP1. Additionally, the decreased expression of DRP1 and autophagosome-encapsulated mitochondria were observed in the intestinal tissues of CKD patients. Administration of AST-120 or genetic knockout of IRF1 attenuated IS-induced DRP1 reduction, mitophagic impairment and intestinal barrier injury in mice.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that reducing IS accumulation or targeting the IRF1-DRP1 axis may be a promising therapeutic strategy for alleviating CKD-associated intestinal dysfunction.
Keywords: chronic kidney disease, indoxyl sulfate, intestinal barrier injury, mitophagy, dynamin-related protein 1