The ability of prostaglandins to protect the kidney against ischemic and toxic renal injury was evaluated by in vivo and in vitro models of renal ischemia. The prostaglandin E1 analogue, misoprostol, was found to provide significant protection against ischemia-induced renal dysfunction in rats subjected to 40 minutes of renal artery occlusion. Misoprostol-treated rats had glomerular filtration rates almost threefold greater than control animals, although renal blood flow and renal vascular resistance were not significantly different. Improved tubular function was reflected in a lower fractional excretion of sodium and a higher urine-to-plasma creatinine ratio. Misoprostol also provided similar protection in a model of toxic renal injury produced by mercuric chloride. In an in vitro model employing primary cultures of proximal tubule epithelial cells subjected to hypoxia and reoxygenation, misoprostol limited cell death. Posthypoxic cells had apical membrane disruption and loss of microvilli when examined by transmission electron microscopy. These changes were not seen in misoprostol-treated cells. The "cytoprotective" effect was also produced by prostaglandin E2 and prostacyclin. The ability of prostaglandin E to protect against toxic and ischemic renal injury did not appear to be due to an antioxidant effect because misoprostol did not limit lipid peroxidation in vivo and did not protect against oxidant injury by tert-butyl hydroperoxide in vitro. Although the exact mechanism of prostaglandin proteclion was not revealed, these studies demonstrate that prostaglandins protect renal tubule epithelial cells from hypoxic injury at the cellular level independent of hemodynamic factors or inflammatory responses. Such a "cytoprotective" effect of prostaglandins may be a generalized phenomenon since it has also been demonstrated in gastrointestinal epithelium.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
These studies were supported, in part, by NIH grant HL-17871. We thank Dr. Mark Moran for helpful discussions regarding these studies