Erythropoietin (Epo)-producing cells were identified in the murine hypoxic kidney by in situ hybridization. Profound anemia was induced in order to greatly increase Epo production. This resulted in high levels of Epo mRNA in the kidney. 35S-labeled DNA fragments of the murine Epo gene were used as probes for in situ hybridization. Control experiments conducted in parallel included kidneys of nonanemic mice, RNase-treated hypoxic kidney sections, and 35S-labeled non-Epo-related DNA. The Epo probe gave a specific hybridization signal in the hypoxic kidney in the cortex and to a lesser extent in the outer medulla. Glomerular and tubular cells were not labeled. All positive cells were identified as peritubular cells. Using immunofluorescence, we showed that cells with the same topography contained Factor VIII-related antigen. These data demonstrated that peritubular cells, most likely endothelial cells, constitute the major site of Epo production in the murine hypoxic kidney.
C Lacombe, J L Da Silva, P Bruneval, J G Fournier, F Wendling, N Casadevall, J P Camilleri, J Bariety, B Varet, P Tambourin