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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the USA. Acute kidney injury (AKI), while often recoverable, predisposes patients to CKD later in life. Kidney epithelial cells have been identified as key signaling nodes in both AKI and CKD, whereby the cells can determine the course of the disease through the secretion of cytokines and other proteins. In CKD especially, several lines of evidence have demonstrated that maladaptively repaired tubular cells drive disease progression through the secretion of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), and other profibrotic cytokines. However, identifying the source and the relative number of secreted proteins from different cell types in vivo remains challenging. This paper describes a technique using brefeldin A (BFA) to prevent the secretion of cytokines, enabling the staining of cytokines in kidney tissue using standard immunofluorescent techniques. BFA inhibits endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi apparatus transport, which is necessary for the secretion of cytokines and other proteins. Injection of BFA 6 h before sacrifice leads to a build-up of TGF-β, PDGF, and CTGF inside the proximal tubule cells (PTCs) in a mouse cisplatin model of AKI and TGF-β in a mouse aristolochic acid (AA) model of CKD. Analysis revealed that BFA + cisplatin or BFA + AA increased TGF-β-positive signal significantly compared to BFA + saline, cisplatin, or AA alone. These data suggest that BFA can be used to identify the cell type producing specific cytokines and quantify the relative amounts and/or different types of cytokines produced.


Kensei Taguchi, Sho Sugahara, Bertha C Elias, Craig R Brooks. Identification of the Source of Secreted Proteins in the Kidney by Brefeldin A Injection. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2021 Nov 10(177)

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PMID: 34842234

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