Erythropoietin (EPO) protects the kidneys from ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury; however, the exact signalling mechanisms are not fully understood. The serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) is an anti-apoptotic protein kinase regulated through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) pathway by cellular stimuli, hormones and growth factors. The objective of the present study was to examine the role of SGK1 in the renoprotective effects of EPO in renal I/R injury.In vitro, cultures of HEK293 cells were exposed to 16 h hypoxia. Incubation with EPO at a doses of 400 U/ml exerted a protective effect on cell death assessed by LDH release and Annexin V FACS analysis. This was paralleled by up-regulation of SGK1 expression, as well as phosphorylation. Downregulation of SGK1 expression by small interfering RNA technique ameliorated the anti-apoptotic effect of EPO treatment.In an in vivo rat model of unilateral renal I/R injury, rats were treated with 500 U/kg EPO 24 h prior to ischemia. EPO resulted in less severe tissue injury and ameliorated the elevation in creatinine and urea nitrogen levels 24 h after reperfusion. Furthermore, SGK1 expression and phosphorylation were higher in EPO compared to vehicle-treated rats as demonstrated by real-time PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence technique.We conclude that EPO protects from renal I/R injury and SGK1 might contribute to the mediation of EPO effects under ischemic conditions.
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