Rationale: Ischemia-reperfusion injury (I/R) is a common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI). Post-ischemic recovery of renal blood supply plays an important role in attenuating injury. Exogenous application of elabela (ELA) peptides has been demonstrated by us and others to alleviate AKI, partly through its receptor APJ. However, the endogenous role of ELA in renal I/R remains unclear. Methods: Renal tubule specific ELA knockout (ApelaKsp KO) mice challenged with bilateral or unilateral I/R were used to investigate the role of endogenous ELA in renal I/R. RNA-sequencing analysis was performed to unbiasedly investigate altered genes in kidneys of ApelaKsp KO mice. Injured mice were treated with ELA32 peptide, Nω-hydroxy-nor-L-arginine (nor-NOHA), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), Paricalcitol, ML221 or respective vehicles, individually or in combination. Results: ELA is mostly expressed in renal tubules. Aggravated pathological injury and further reduction of renal microvascular blood flow were observed in ApelaKsp KO mice during AKI and the following transition to chronic kidney disease (AKI-CKD). RNA-seq analysis suggested that two blood flow regulators, arginine metabolizing enzyme arginase 2 (ARG2) and PGE2 metabolizing enzyme carbonyl reductases 1 and 3 (CBR1/3), were altered in injured ApelaKsp KO mice. Notably, combination application of an ARG2 inhibitor nor-NOHA, and Paricalcitol, a clinically used activator for PGE2 synthesis, alleviated injury-induced AKI/AKI-CKD stages and eliminated the worst outcomes observed in ApelaKsp KO mice. Moreover, while the APJ inhibitor ML221 blocked the beneficial effects of ELA32 peptide on AKI, it showed no effect on combination treatment of nor-NOHA and Paricalcitol. Conclusions: An endogenous tubular ELA-APJ axis regulates renal microvascular blood flow that plays a pivotal role in I/R-induced AKI. Furthermore, improving renal blood flow by inhibiting ARG2 and activating PGE2 is an effective treatment for AKI and prevents the subsequent AKI-CKD transition.
- AKI-CKD transition
- acute kidney injury
- renal microvascular blood flow