Ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) sets off a devastating cascade of events, leading to cell death and possible organ failure. Treatments to limit I/R-associated damage are lacking, and the pathways that drive injury are poorly understood. In this issue of the JCI, Wei and colleagues identify microRNA-668 (miR-668) as a protective factor in acute kidney injury (AKI). miR-668 was shown to repress mitochondrial fission–associated protein MTP18, thereby inhibiting pathogenic mitochondrial fragmentation. In murine models of I/R-induced AKI, treatment with a miR-668 mimetic reduced mitochondrial fragmentation and improved renal function. Moreover, HIF-1α was shown to be required for miR-688 expression in response to I/R. Importantly, Wei et al. show miR-668 upregulation in a cohort of human patients with AKI. Together, these results identify a HIF-1α/miR-668/MTP18 axis that may have potential as a therapeutic target for AKI.
Nicholas Chun, Steven G. Coca, John Cijiang He