The role of cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in hypoxic injury was investigated in rat proximal tubules. [Ca2+]i was measured using fura-2 and cell injury was estimated with propidium iodide (PI) in individual tubules using video imaging fluorescence microscopy. [Ca2+]i increased from approximately 170 to approximately 390 nM during 5 min of hypoxia. This increase preceded detectable cell injury as assessed by PI and was reversible with reoxygenation. 1,2-Bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA; 100 microM) reduced [Ca2+]i under basal conditions (approximately 80 nM) and during hypoxia (approximately 120 nM) and significantly attenuated hypoxic injury. When [Ca2+]i and hypoxic cell injury were studied concurrently in the same individual tubules, the 10 min [Ca2+]i rise correlated significantly with subsequent cell damage observed at 20 min. 2 mM glycine did not block the rise in [Ca2+]i, yet protected the tubules from hypoxic injury. These results indicate that in rat proximal tubules, hypoxia induces an increase of [Ca2+]i which occurs before cell damage. The protective effect of BAPTA supports a role for [Ca2+]i in the initiation of hypoxic proximal tubule injury. The glycine results, however, implicate calcium-independent mechanisms of injury and/or blockade of calcium-mediated processes of injury such as activation of phospholipases or proteases.


A Kribben, E D Wieder, J F Wetzels, L Yu, P E Gengaro, T J Burke, R W Schrier


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