Renal tubule epithelia represent the primary site of damage in acute kidney injury (AKI), a process initiated and propagated by the infiltration of macrophages. Here we investigated the role of resident renal macrophages and dendritic cells in recovery from AKI after ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury or a novel diphtheria toxin–induced (DT-induced) model of selective proximal tubule injury in mice. DT-induced AKI was characterized by marked renal proximal tubular cell apoptosis. In both models, macrophage/dendritic cell depletion during the recovery phase increased functional and histologic injury and delayed regeneration. After I/R-induced AKI, there was an early increase in renal macrophages derived from circulating inflammatory (M1) monocytes, followed by accumulation of renal macrophages/dendritic cells with a wound-healing (M2) phenotype. In contrast, DT-induced AKI only generated an increase in M2 cells. In both models, increases in M2 cells resulted largely from in situ proliferation in the kidney. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF-1) signaling blocked macrophage/dendritic cell proliferation, decreased M2 polarization, and inhibited recovery. These findings demonstrated that CSF-1–mediated expansion and polarization of resident renal macrophages/dendritic cells is an important mechanism mediating renal tubule epithelial regeneration after AKI.


Ming-Zhi Zhang, Bing Yao, Shilin Yang, Li Jiang, Suwan Wang, Xiaofeng Fan, Huiyong Yin, Karlton Wong, Tomoki Miyazawa, Jianchun Chen, Ingrid Chang, Amar Singh, Raymond C. Harris


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