Scientific reports

Deferasirox-induced iron depletion promotes BclxL downregulation and death of proximal tubular cells.

PMID 28139717


Iron deficiency has been associated with kidney injury. Deferasirox is an oral iron chelator used to treat blood transfusion-related iron overload. Nephrotoxicity is the most serious and common adverse effect of deferasirox and may present as an acute or chronic kidney disease. However, scarce data are available on the molecular mechanisms of nephrotoxicity. We explored the therapeutic modulation of deferasirox-induced proximal tubular cell death in culture. Deferasirox induced dose-dependent tubular cell death and AnexxinV/7AAD staining showed features of apoptosis and necrosis. However, despite inhibiting caspase-3 activation, the pan-caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk failed to prevent deferasirox-induced cell death. Moreover, zVAD increased deferasirox-induced cell death, a feature sometimes found in necroptosis. Electron microscopy identified mitochondrial injury and features of necrosis. However, neither necrostatin-1 nor RIP3 knockdown prevented deferasirox-induced cell death. Deferasirox caused BclxL depletion and BclxL overexpression was protective. Preventing iron depletion protected from BclxL downregulation and deferasirox cytotoxicity. In conclusion, deferasirox promoted iron depletion-dependent cell death characterized by BclxL downregulation. BclxL overexpression was protective, suggesting a role for BclxL downregulation in iron depletion-induced cell death. This information may be used to develop novel nephroprotective strategies. Furthermore, it supports the concept that monitoring kidney tissue iron depletion may decrease the risk of deferasirox nephrotoxicity.

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