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Hypoxic environments at high altitude have significant effects on kidney injury. Following injury, renal primary cilia display length alterations. Primary cilia are mechanosensory organelles that regulate tubular architecture. The effect of hypoxia on cilia length is still controversial in cultured cells, and no corresponding in vivo study exists. Using fetal and adult sheep, we here study the effect of chronic hypobaric hypoxia on the renal injury, intracellular calcium signaling and the relationship between cilia length and cilia function. Our results show that although long-term hypoxia induces renal fibrosis in both fetal and adult kidneys, fetal kidneys are more susceptible to hypoxia-induced renal injury. Unlike hypoxic adult kidneys, hypoxic fetal kidneys are characterized by interstitial edema, tubular disparition and atrophy. We also noted that there is an increase in the cilia length as well as an increase in the cilia function in the hypoxic fetal proximal and distal collecting epithelia. Hypoxia, however, has no significant effect on primary cilia in the adult kidneys. Increased cilia length is also associated with greater flow-induced intracellular calcium signaling in renal epithelial cells from hypoxic fetuses. Our studies suggest that while hypoxia causes renal fibrosis in both adult and fetal kidneys, hypoxia-induced alteration in cilia length and function are specific to more severe renal injuries in fetal hypoxic kidneys.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Physiology, volume 8, in 2017. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2017.00677


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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