Podocyte injury: The role of proteinuria, urinary plasminogen, and oxidative stress

Leopoldo Raij, Runxia Tian, Jenny S. Wong, John C. He, Kirk N. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Podocytes are the key target for injury in proteinuric glomerular diseases that result in podocyte loss, progressive focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS), and renal failure. Current evidence suggests that the initiation of podocyte injury and associated proteinuria can be separated from factors that drive and maintain these pathogenic processes leading to FSGS. In nephrotic urine aberrant glomerular filtration of plasminogen (Plg) is activated to the biologically active serine protease plasmin by urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). In vivo inhibition of uPA mitigates Plg activation and development of FSGS in several proteinuric models of renal disease including 5/6 nephrectomy. Here, we show that Plg is markedly increased in the urine in two murine models of proteinuric kidney disease associated with podocyte injury: Tg26 HIV-associated nephropathy and the Cd2ap-/- model of FSGS. We show that human podocytes express uPA and three Plg receptors: uPAR, tPA, and Plg-RKT. We demonstrate that Plg treatment of podocytes specifically upregulates NADPH oxidase isoforms NOX2/NOX4 and increases production of mitochondrialdependent superoxide anion (O2 -) that promotes endothelin-1 synthesis. Plg via O2 - also promotes expression of the B scavenger receptor CD36 and subsequent increased intracellular cholesterol uptake resulting in podocyte apoptosis. Taken together, our findings suggest that following disruption of the glomerular filtration barrier at the onset of proteinuric disease, podocytes are exposed to Plg resulting in further injury mediated by oxidative stress. We suggest that chronic exposure to Plg could serve as a “second hit” in glomerular disease and that Plg is potentially an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F1308-F1317
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Oxidative stress
  • Plasminogen
  • Podocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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