Glomerular filtration drug injury: In vitro evaluation of functional and morphological podocyte perturbations

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The kidney is an organ that plays a major role in the excretion of numerous compounds such as drugs and chemicals. However, a great number of pharmacological molecules are nephrotoxic, affecting the efficiency of the treatment and increasing morbidity or mortality. Focusing on glomerular filtration, we propose in this study a simple and reproducible in vitro human model that is able to bring to light a functional podocyte injury, correlated with morphologic/phenotypic changes after drug exposure. This model was used for the evaluation of paracellular permeability of FITC-dextran molecules as well as FITC-BSA after different treatments. Puromycin aminonucleoside and adriamycin, compounds known to induce proteinuria in vivo and that serve here as positive nephrotoxic drug controls, were able to induce an important increase in fluorescent probe passage through the cell monolayer. Different molecules were then evaluated for their potential effect on podocyte filtration. Our results demonstrated that a drug effect could be time dependent, stable or scalable and relatively specific. Immunofluorescence studies indicated that these functional perturbations were due to cytoskeletal perturbations, monolayer disassembly or could be correlated with a decrease in nephrin expression and/or ZO-1 relocation. Taken together, our results demonstrated that this in vitro human model represents an interesting tool for the screening of the renal toxicity of drugs.HIGHLIGHTSThe use of nephrotoxic drugs is often unavoidable.Human podocyte cell line allows the study of the simplified glomerular filtration.Filtration perturbations are correlated with morphological and phenotypic changes.Functional and morphological tests are interesting tools for drug screening.

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