Characterization of ferroptosis in kidney tubular cell death under diabetic conditions

Seonghun Kim, Shin Wook Kang, Jeongho Joo, Seung Hyeok Han, Huiyoon Shin, Bo Young Nam, Jimin Park, Tae Hyun Yoo, Gyuri Kim, Pureunchowon Lee, Jung Tak Park

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135 Citations (Scopus)


Kidney tubular cell death induced by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is known to contribute to diabetic nephropathy, a major complication of diabetes. Caspase-3-dependent apoptosis and caspase-1-dependent pyroptosis are also involved in tubular cell death under diabetic conditions. Recently, ferroptosis, an atypical form of iron-dependent cell death, was reported to cause kidney disease, including acute kidney injury. Ferroptosis is primed by lipid peroxide accumulation through the cystine/glutamate antiporter system Xc (xCT) and glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4)-dependent mechanisms. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of ferroptosis in diabetes-induced tubular injury. TGF-β1-stimulated proximal tubular epithelial cells and diabetic mice models were used for in vitro and in vivo experiments, respectively. xCT and GPX4 expression, cell viability, glutathione concentration, and lipid peroxidation were quantified to indicate ferroptosis. The effect of ferroptosis inhibition was also assessed. In kidney biopsy samples from diabetic patients, xCT and GPX4 mRNA expression was decreased compared to nondiabetic samples. In TGF-β1-stimulated tubular cells, intracellular glutathione concentration was reduced and lipid peroxidation was enhanced, both of which are related to ferroptosis-related cell death. Ferrostatin-1 (Fer-1), a ferroptosis inhibitor, alleviated TGF-β1-induced ferroptosis. In diabetic mice, kidney mRNA and protein expressions of xCT and GPX4 were reduced compared to control. Kidney glutathione concentration was decreased, while lipid peroxidation was increased in these mice, and these changes were alleviated by Fer-1 treatment. Ferroptosis is involved in kidney tubular cell death under diabetic conditions. Ferroptosis inhibition could be a therapeutic option for diabetic nephropathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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