APOL1-G0 protects podocytes in a mouse model of HIV-associated nephropathy

Leslie A. Bruggeman, Zhenzhen Wu, Liping Luo, Sethu Madhavan, Paul E. Drawz, David B. Thomas, Laura Barisoni, John F. O'Toole, John R. Sedor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


African polymorphisms in the gene for Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) confer a survival advantage against lethal trypanosomiasis but also an increased risk for several chronic kidney diseases (CKD) including HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN). APOL1 is expressed in renal cells, however, the pathogenic events that lead to renal cell damage and kidney disease are not fully understood. The podocyte function of APOL1-G0 versus APOL1-G2 in the setting of a known disease stressor was assessed using transgenic mouse models. Transgene expression, survival, renal pathology and function, and podocyte density were assessed in an intercross of a mouse model of HIVAN (Tg26) with two mouse models that express either APOL1-G0 or APOL1-G2 in podocytes. Mice that expressed HIV genes developed heavy proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis, and had significant losses in podocyte numbers and reductions in podocyte densities. Mice that co-expressed APOL1-G0 and HIV had preserved podocyte numbers and densities, with fewer morphologic manifestations typical of HIVAN pathology. Podocyte losses and pathology in mice co-expressing APOL1-G2 and HIV were not significantly different from mice expressing only HIV. Podocyte hypertrophy, a known compensatory event to stress, was increased in the mice co-expressing HIV and APOL1-G0, but absent in the mice co-expressing HIV and APOL1-G2. Mortality and renal function tests were not significantly different between groups. APOL1-G0 expressed in podocytes may have a protective function against podocyte loss or injury when exposed to an environmental stressor. This was absent with APOL1-G2 expression, suggesting APOL1-G2 may have lost this protective function. 2019 Bruggeman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0224408
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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