Toxicology and applied pharmacology

Diabetes increases susceptibility of primary cultures of rat proximal tubular cells to chemically induced injury.

PMID 19682476


Diabetic nephropathy is characterized by increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. In the present study, we prepared primary cultures of proximal tubular (PT) cells from diabetic rats 30 days after an ip injection of streptozotocin and compared their susceptibility to oxidants (tert-butyl hydroperoxide, methyl vinyl ketone) and a mitochondrial toxicant (antimycin A) with that of PT cells isolated from age-matched control rats, to test the hypothesis that PT cells from diabetic rats exhibit more cellular and mitochondrial injury than those from control rats when exposed to these toxicants. PT cells from diabetic rats exhibited higher basal levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and higher mitochondrial membrane potential, demonstrating that the PT cells maintain the diabetic phenotype in primary culture. Incubation with either the oxidants or mitochondrial toxicant resulted in greater necrotic and apoptotic cell death, greater evidence of morphological damage, greater increases in ROS, and greater decreases in mitochondrial membrane potential in PT cells from diabetic rats than in those from control rats. Pretreatment with either the antioxidant N-acetyl-l-cysteine or a catalase mimetic provided equivalent protection of PT cells from both diabetic and control rats. Despite the greater susceptibility to oxidative and mitochondrial injury, both cytoplasmic and mitochondrial glutathione concentrations were markedly higher in PT cells from diabetic rats, suggesting an upregulation of antioxidant processes in diabetic kidney. These results support the hypothesis that primary cultures of PT cells from diabetic rats are a valid model in which to study renal cellular function in the diabetic state.