Protein-bound uremic toxins induce reactive oxygen species-dependent and inflammasome-mediated il-1β production in kidney proximal tubule cells

Milos Mihajlovic, Merle M. Krebber, Yi Yang, Sabbir Ahmed, Valeria Lozovanu, Daria Andreeva, Marianne C. Verhaar and Rosalinde Masereeuw 1

Published: October 2021


Protein bound-uremic toxins (PBUTs) are not efficiently removed by hemodialysis in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients and their accumulation leads to various co-morbidities via cellular dysfunction, inflammation and oxidative stress. Moreover, it has been shown that increased intrarenal expression of the NLRP3 receptor and IL-1β are associated with reduced kidney function, suggesting a critical role for the NLRP3 inflammasome in CKD progression. Here, we evaluated the effect of PBUTs on inflammasome-mediated IL-1β production in vitro and in vivo. Exposure of human conditionally immortalized proximal tubule epithelial cells to indoxyl sulfate (IS) and a mixture of anionic PBUTs (UT mix) increased expression levels of NLRP3, caspase-1 and IL-1β, accompanied by a significant increase in IL-1β secretion and caspase-1 activity. Furthermore, IS and UT mix induced the production of intracellular reactive oxygen species, and caspase-1 activity and IL-1β secretion were reduced in the presence of antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. IS and UT mix also induced NF-κB activation as evidenced by p65 nuclear translocation and IL-1β production, which was counteracted by an IKK inhibitor. In vivo, using subtotal nephrectomy CKD rats, a significant increase in total plasma levels of IS and the PBUTs, kynurenic acid and hippuric acid, was found, as well as enhanced urinary malondialdehyde levels. CKD kidney tissue showed an increasing trend in expression of NLRP3 inflammasome components, and a decreasing trend in superoxide dismutase-1 levels. In conclusion, we showed that PBUTs induce inflammasome-mediated IL-1β production in proximal tubule cells via oxidative stress and NF-κB signaling, suggesting their involvement in disease-associated inflammatory processes.

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