Kidney international

High altitude may alter oxygen availability and renal metabolism in diabetics as measured by hyperpolarized [1-(13)C]pyruvate magnetic resonance imaging.

PMID 24352155


The kidneys account for about 10% of the whole body oxygen consumption, whereas only 0.5% of the total body mass. It is known that intrarenal hypoxia is present in several diseases associated with development of kidney disease, including diabetes, and when renal blood flow is unaffected. The importance of deranged oxygen metabolism is further supported by deterioration of kidney function in patients with diabetes living at high altitude. Thus, we argue that reduced oxygen availability alters renal energy metabolism. Here, we introduce a novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approach to monitor metabolic changes associated with diabetes and oxygen availability. Streptozotocin diabetic and control rats were given reduced, normal, or increased inspired oxygen in order to alter tissue oxygenation. The effects on kidney oxygen metabolism were studied using hyperpolarized [1-(13)C]pyruvate MRI. Reduced inspired oxygen did not alter renal metabolism in the control group. Reduced oxygen availability in the diabetic kidney altered energy metabolism by increasing lactate and alanine formation by 23% and 34%, respectively, whereas the bicarbonate flux was unchanged. Thus, the increased prevalence and severity of nephropathy in patients with diabetes at high altitudes may originate from the increased sensitivity toward inspired oxygen. This increased lactate production shifts the metabolic routs toward hypoxic pathways.