Increased soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 after ischemia reperfusion contributes to adverse clinical outcomes following kidney transplantation
Renal ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) adversely affects clinical outcomes following kidney transplantation. Understanding the cellular mechanisms and the changes in gene/protein expression following IRI may help to improve these outcomes. Serum soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), a circulating antiangiogenic protein, is increased in the first week following kidney transplantation. We evaluated the casual relationship of elevated sFlt-1 levels with renal microvascular dysfunction following IRI in a longitudinal study of 93 kidney transplant recipients and in several animal models. Transplant recipients with higher sFlt-1 levels had higher odds of delayed graft function, graft rejection, impaired graft function, and death. In a subgroup of 25 participants who underwent kidney biopsy within 4 months of kidney transplantation, peritubular capillary area was lower in those with elevated serum sFtl-1 levels. The administration of recombinant sFlt-1 into rodents resulted in significant structural and functional changes of the renal microvasculature, including reduced peritubular capillary density and intracapillary blood volume, and lead to increased expression of inflammatory genes and increased fibrosis. In a murine model of IRI, the kidney was a site of sFlt-1 production, and systemic neutralization of sFlt-1 preserved peritubular capillary density and alleviated renal fibrosis. Our data indicate that high sFlt-1 levels after IRI play an important role in the pathogenesis of microvascular dysfunction, thereby contributing to adverse clinical outcomes following kidney transplantation.