TNFR1-dependent pulmonary apoptosis during ischemic acute kidney injury

Laura E. White, Rachel J. Santora, Yan Cui, Frederick A. Moore, Heitham T. Hassoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Despite advancements in renal replacement therapy, the mortality rate for acute kidney injury (AKI) remains unacceptably high, likely due to remote organ injury. Kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) activates cellular and soluble mediators that incite a distinct pulmonary proinflammatory and proapoptotic response. Tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1) has been identified as a prominent death receptor activated in the lungs during ischemic AKI. We hypothesized that circulating TNF-α released from the postischemic kidney induces TNFR1-mediated pulmonary apoptosis, and we aimed to elucidate molecular pathways to programmed cell death. Using an established murine model of kidney IRI, we characterized the time course for increased circulatory and pulmonary TNF-α levels and measured concurrent upregulation of pulmonary TNFR1 expression. We then identified TNFR1-dependent pulmonary apoptosis after ischemic AKI using TNFR1 -/- mice. Subsequent TNF-α signaling disruption with Etanercept implicated circulatory TNF-α as a key soluble mediator of pulmonary apoptosis and lung microvascular barrier dysfunction during ischemic AKI. We further elucidated pathways of TNFR1-mediated apoptosis with NF-κB (Complex I) and caspase-8 (Complex II) expression and discovered that TNFR1 proapoptotic signaling induces NF-κB activation. Additionally, inhibition of NF-κB (Complex I) resulted in a proapoptotic phenotype, lung barrier leak, and altered cellular flice inhibitory protein signaling independent of caspase-8 (Complex II) activation. Ischemic AKI activates soluble TNF-α and induces TNFR1-dependent pulmonary apoptosis through augmentation of the prosurvival and proapoptotic TNFR1 signaling pathway. Kidney-lung crosstalk after ischemic AKI represents a complex pathological process, yet focusing on specific biological pathways may yield potential future therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L449-L459
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute lung injury
  • Caspase-3
  • Multiple organ failure
  • NF-κb
  • Organ crosstalk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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