To investigate renal tubular epithelial cell injury mediated by reactive oxygen molecules and to explore the relative susceptibility of epithelial cells and endothelial cells to oxidant injury, we determined cell injury in human umbilical vein endothelial cells and in four renal tubular epithelial cell lines including LLC-PK1, MDCK, OK and normal human kidney cortical epithelial cells (NHK-C). Cells were exposed to reactive oxygen molecules including superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical generated by xanthine oxidase and hypoxanthine. We determined early sublethal injury with efflux of 3H-adenine metabolites and a decline in ATP levels, while late lytic injury and cell detachment were determined by release of 51 chromium. When the cells were exposed to 25, 50, and 100 mU/ml xanthine oxidase with 5.0 mM hypoxanthine, ATP levels were significantly lower (P < 0.001) in LLC-PK1, NHK-C and OK cells compared to MDCK cells while ATP levels were significantly lower (P < 0.01) in endothelial cells compared to all tubular cell lines. A similar pattern of injury was seen with efflux of 3H-adenine metabolites. When the cells were exposed to 50 mU/ml xanthine oxidase with 5.0 mM hypoxanthine for five hours, total 51chromium release was significantly (P < 0.001) greater in LLC-PK1, NHK-C and OK cells compared to MDCK cells, while total 51chromium release was significantly (P < 0.001) greater in endothelial cells compared to all tubular cells. However, lytic injury was the greatest in LLC-PK1 cells and NHK-C cells while cell detachment was the greatest in endothelial cells. MDCK cells were remarkably resistant to oxidant-mediated cell detachment and cell lysis. In addition, we determined ATP levels, 3H-adenine release and 51chromium release in LLC-PK1, NHK-C and endothelial cells in the presence of superoxide dismutase to dismute superoxide anion, catalase to metabolize hydrogen peroxide, DMPO to trap hydroxyl radical and DMTU to scavenge hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical. We found that catalase and DMTU (scavengers of hydrogen peroxide) provided significant protection from ATP depletion, prevented efflux of 3H-adenine metabolites and cell detachment while DMPO (scavenger of hydroxyl radical) prevented lytic injury. In addition, we found that the membrane-permeable iron chelator, phenanthroline, and preincubation with deferoxamine prevented cell detachment and cell lysis, confirming the role of hydroxyl radical in cell injury. We conclude that among tubular epithelial cells, cells with proximal tubular characteristics including LLC-PK1, NHK-C and OK cells were more susceptible to oxidant injury than MDCK cells which originate from distal tubules. Endothelial cells responded to oxidant injury with a greater fall in ATP levels, efflux of 3H-adenine metabolites and cell detachment, while tubular epithelial cells demonstrated greater cell lysis. Finally, it appears that hydrogen peroxide mediates ATP depletion and efflux of 3H-adenine metabolites while hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical mediate cell detachment and cell lysis.
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