Biological Research (Feb 2023)

Alpha‐kinase1 promotes tubular injury and interstitial inflammation in diabetic nephropathy by canonical pyroptosis pathway

  • Xinyuan Cui,
  • Yifu Li,
  • Shuguang Yuan,
  • Yao Huang,
  • Xiaojun Chen,
  • Yachun Han,
  • Zhiwen Liu,
  • Zheng Li,
  • Yang Xiao,
  • Youliang Wang,
  • Lin Sun,
  • Hong Liu,
  • Xuejing Zhu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 56, no. 1
pp. 1 – 14


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Abstract Background Alpha‐kinase 1 (ALPK1) is a master regulator in inflammation and has been proved to promote renal fibrosis by promoting the production of IL-1β in diabetic nephropathy (DN) mice. Pyroptosis is involved in high glucose (HG)-induced tubular cells injury, characterized by activation of Gasdermin D (GSDMD) and the release of IL-1β and IL-18, resulting in inflammatory injury in DN. It is reasonable to assume that ALPK1 is involved in pyroptosis-related tubular injury in DN. However, the mechanism remains poorly defined. Methods Immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining was performed to detect the expression of pyroptosis- and fibrosis-related proteins in renal sections of DN patients and DN mice. DN models were induced through injection of streptozotocin combined with a high-fat diet. Protein levels of ALPK1, NF-κB, Caspase-1, GSDMD, IL-1β, IL-18 and α-SMA were detected by Western blot. HK-2 cells treated with high-glucose (HG) served as an in vitro model. ALPK1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) was transfected into HK-2 cells to down-regulate ALPK1. The pyroptosis rates were determined by flow cytometry. The concentrations of IL-1β and IL-18 were evaluated by ELISA kits. Immunofluorescence staining was used to observe translocation of NF-κB and GSDMD. Results The heat map of differentially expressed genes showed that ALPK1, Caspase-1 and GSDMD were upregulated in the DN group. The expression levels of ALPK1, Caspase-1, GSDMD and CD68 were increased in renal biopsy tissues of DN patients by IHC. ALPK1expression and CD68+ macrophages were positively correlated with tubular injury in DN patients. Western blot analysis showed increased expressions of ALPK1, phospho-NF-κB P65, GSDMD-NT, and IL-1β in renal tissues of DN mice and HK-2 cells, accompanied with increased renal fibrosis-related proteins (FN, α-SMA) and macrophages infiltration in interstitial areas. Inhibition of ALPK1 attenuated HG-induced upregulation expressions of NF-κB, pyroptosis-related proteins Caspase-1, GSDMD-NT, IL-1β, IL-18, α-SMA, and pyroptosis level in HK-2 cells. Also, the intensity and nuclear translocation of NF-κB and membranous translocation of GSDMD were ameliorated in HG-treated HK-2 cells after treatment with ALPK1 siRNA. Conclusions Our data suggest that ALPK1/NF-κB pathway initiated canonical caspase-1-GSDMD pyroptosis pathway, resulting in tubular injury and interstitial inflammation of DN.