Bcl-2 protects tubular epithelial cells from ischemia/reperfusion injury by dual mechanisms.

Research paper by Y Y Isaka, C C Suzuki, T T Abe, M M Okumi, N N Ichimaru, R R Imamura, Y Y Kakuta, I I Matsui, Y Y Takabatake, H H Rakugi, S S Shimizu, S S Takahara

Indexed on: 03 Mar '09Published on: 03 Mar '09Published in: Transplantation Proceedings


Ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury, which induces extensive loss of tubular epithelial cells, is associated with delayed graft function following kidney transplantation. Recent reports have suggested that cell death by I/R injury occurs by autophagy, a cellular degradation process responsible for the turnover of unnecessary or dysfunctional organelles and cytoplasmic proteins, as well as by apoptosis. Recently, we demonstrated that overexpression of the anti-apoptotic factor, Bcl-2, inhibited tubular apoptosis and subsequent tubulointerstitial damage after I/R injury. Autophagy is also observed in cells undergoing cell death in several diseases. Therefore, we hypothesized that increased Bcl-2 protein may protect tubular epithelial cells by suppressing autophagy and inhibiting apoptosis. In the present study, a transgenic mouse model (LC3-GFP TG) in which autophagosomes are labeled with LC3-GFP and Bcl-2/LC3-GFP double transgenic mice (Bcl-2/LC3-GFP TG) were used to examine the effect of Bcl-2 on I/R-induced autophagy. I/R injury, which is associated with marked disruption of normal tubular morphology, promoted the formation of LC3-GFP dots, representing extensively induced autophagosomes. On electron microscopy, the autophagosomes contained mitochondria in I/R-injured tubular epithelial cells. In contrast, Bcl-2 augmentation suppressed the formation of autophagosomes and there was less tubular damage. In conclusion, Bcl-2 augmentation protected renal tubular epithelial cells from I/R injury by suppressing autophagosomal degradation and inhibiting tubular apoptosis.