Fibrogenic stresses activate different mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in renal epithelial, endothelial or fibroblast cell populations
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Fibrogenic stresses promote progression of renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis, disparately affecting survival, proliferation and trans-differentiation of intrinsic renal cell populations through ill-defined biomolecular pathways. We investigated the effect of fibrogenic stresses on the activation of cell-specific mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in renal fibroblast, epithelial and endothelial cell populations. The relative outcomes (cell death, proliferation, trans-differentiation) associated with activation or inhibition of extracellular-regulated protein kinase (ERK) or stress activated/c-Jun N terminal kinase (JNK) were analysed in each renal cell population after challenge with oxidative stress (1 mmol/L H2O2), transforming growth factor-߱ (TGF-߱, 10 ng/mL) or tumour necrosis factor-a (TNF-a, 50 ng/mL) over 0-20 h. Apoptosis increased significantly in all cell types after oxidative stress (P < 0.05). In fibroblasts, oxidative stress caused the activation of ERK (pERK) but not JNK (pJNK). Inhibition of ERK by PD98059 supported its role in a fibroblast death pathway. In epithelial and endothelial cells, oxidative stress-induced apoptosis was preceded by early induction of pERK, but its inhibition did not support a pro-apoptotic role. Early ERK activity may be conducive to their survival or promote the trans-differentiation of epithelial cells. In epithelial and endothelial cells, oxidative stress induced pJNK acutely. Pretreatment with SP600125 (JNK inhibitor) verified its pro-apoptotic activity only in epithelial cells. Transforming growth factor-߱ did not significantly alter mitosis or apoptosis in any of the cell types, nor did it alter MAPK activity. Tumor necrosis factor-a caused increased apoptosis with no associated change in MAPK activity. Our results demonstrate renal cell-specific differences in the activation of ERK and JNK following fibrotic insult, which may be useful for targeting excessive fibroblast proliferation in chronic fibrosis.