Renal tubular cell spliced X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1s) has a unique role in sepsis-induced acute kidney injury and inflammation

Silvia Ferrè, Yingfeng Deng, Sarah C. Huen, Christopher Y. Lu, Philipp E. Scherer, Peter Igarashi, Orson W. Moe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory state in response to infection, and concomitant acute kidney injury (AKI) increases mortality significantly. Endoplasmic reticulum stress is activated in many cell types upon microbial infection and modulates inflammation. The role of endoplasmic reticulum signaling in the kidney during septic AKI is unknown. Here we tested the role of the spliced X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1s), a key component of the endoplasmic reticulum stress-activated pathways, in the renal response to sepsis in the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) model. Xbp1s was increased in the kidneys of mice treated with LPS but not in other models of AKI, or several chronic kidney disease models. The functional significance of Xbp1s induction was examined by genetic manipulation in renal tubules. Renal tubule-specific overexpression of Xbp1s caused severe tubule dilation and vacuolation with expression of the injury markers Kim1 and Ngal, the pro-inflammatory molecules interleukin-6 (Il6) and Toll-like receptor 4 (Tlr4), decreased kidney function and 50% mortality in five days. Renal tubule-specific genetic ablation of Xbp1 had no phenotype at baseline. However, after LPS, Xbp1 knockdown mice displayed lower renal NGAL, pro-apoptotic factor CHOP, serum creatinine levels, and a tendency towards lower Tlr4 compared to LPS-treated mice with intact Xbp1s. LPS treatment in Xbp1s-overexpressing mice caused a mild increase in NGAL and CHOP compared to LPS-treated mice without genetic Xbp1s overexpression. Thus, increased Xbp1s signaling in renal tubules is unique to sepsis-induced AKI and contributes to renal inflammation and injury. Inhibition of this pathway may be a potential portal to alleviate injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1359-1373
Number of pages15
JournalKidney international
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • AKI
  • ER stress
  • Inflammation
  • Sepsis
  • Xbp1s

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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