Analysis of the human kidney transcriptome and plasma proteome identifies markers of proximal tubule maladaptation to injury

Yumeng We, Emily Su, Leyuan Xu, Steven Menez, Dennis G. Moledina, Wassim Obeid, Paul M. Palevsky, Sherry G. Mansour, Prasad Devarajan, Lloyd G. Cantley, Patrick Cahan, Chirag R. Parikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major risk factor for long-term adverse outcomes, including chronic kidney disease. In mouse models of AKI, maladaptive repair of the injured proximal tubule (PT) prevents complete tissue recovery. However, evidence for PT maladaptation and its etiological relationship with complications of AKI is lacking in humans. We performed single-nucleus RNA sequencing of 120,985 nuclei in kidneys from 17 participants with AKI and seven healthy controls from the Kidney Precision Medicine Project. Maladaptive PT cells, which exhibited transcriptomic features of dedifferentiation and enrichment in pro-inflammatory and profibrotic pathways, were present in participants with AKI of diverse etiologies. To develop plasma markers of PT maladaptation, we analyzed the plasma proteome in two independent cohorts of patients undergoing cardiac surgery and a cohort of marathon runners, linked it to the transcriptomic signatures associated with maladaptive PT, and identified nine proteins whose genes were specifically up-or down-regulated by maladaptive PT. After cardiac surgery, both cohorts of patients had increased transforming growth factor-β2 (TGFB2), collagen type XXIII-α1 (COL23A1), and X-linked neuroligin 4 (NLGN4X) and had decreased plasminogen (PLG), ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 6 (ENPP6), and protein C (PROC). Similar changes were observed in marathon runners with exercise-associated kidney injury. Postoperative changes in these markers were associated with AKI progression in adults after cardiac surgery and post-AKI kidney atrophy in mouse models of ischemia-reperfusion injury and toxic injury. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of a multiomics approach to discovering noninvasive markers and associating PT maladaptation with adverse clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereade7287
JournalScience translational medicine
Issue number726
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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