Effects of erythropoietin receptor activity on angiogenesis, tubular injury, and fibrosis in acute kidney injury: A “U-shaped” relationship

Mingjun Shi, Brianna Flores, Peng Li, Nancy Gillings, Kathryn L. McMillan, Jianfeng Ye, Lily Jun Shen Huang, Sachdev S. Sidhu, Yong Ping Zhong, Maria T. Grompe, Philip R. Streeter, Orson W. Moe, Ming Chang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) is widely expressed but its renoprotective action is unexplored. To examine the role of EpoR in vivo in the kidney, we induced acute kidney injury (AKI) by ischemiareperfusion in mice with different EpoR bioactivities in the kidney. EpoR bioactivity was reduced by knockin of wild-type human EpoR, which is hypofunctional relative to murine EpoR, and a renal tubulespecific EpoR knockout. These mice had lower EPO/EpoR activity and lower autophagy flux in renal tubules. Upon AKI induction, they exhibited worse renal function and structural damage, more apoptosis at the acute stage (<7 days), and slower recovery with more tubulointerstitial fibrosis at the subacute stage (14 days). In contrast, mice with hyperactive EpoR signaling from knockin of a constitutively active human EpoR had higher autophagic flux, milder kidney damage, and better renal function at the acute stage but, surprisingly, worse tubulointerstitial fibrosis and renal function at the subacute stage. Either excess or deficient EpoR activity in the kidney was associated with abnormal peritubular capillaries and tubular hypoxia, creating a “U-shaped” relationship. The direct effects of EpoR on tubular cells were confirmed in vitro by a hydrogen peroxide model using primary cultured proximal tubule cells with different EpoR activities. In summary, normal erythropoietin (EPO)/EpoR signaling in renal tubules provides defense against renal tubular injury maintains the autophagy-apoptosis balance and peritubular capillary integrity. High and low EPO/EpoR bioactivities both lead to vascular defect, and high EpoR activity overides the tubular protective effects in AKI recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F501-F516
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • AKI
  • Autophagy
  • EpoR
  • Peritubular capillary
  • Tubulointerstitial fibrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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