Molecular changes in extracellular matrix turnover after renal ischaemia–reperfusion injury


  • Presented to the 90th Meeting of the Surgical Research Society in London, UK, December 1999, and published in abstract form as Br J Surg 2000, 87: 638–639.



Renal ischaemia–reperfusion (IR) injury is an inevitable consequence of transplantation and contributes to later graft fibrosis. This study aimed to elucidate the possible mechanisms by studying the expression of genes associated with extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover.


Male Wistar rats underwent laparotomy, clamping of the right renal pedicle for 45 min, and left nephrectomy. Control animals underwent left nephrectomy only, or had no operation. Animals were killed at 8, 16 and 24 weeks and messenger RNA was extracted from renal tissue. Genes of interest were amplified and then quantified in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay system with levels expressed as a ratio to a known housekeeping gene (GAPDH).


Experimental animals developed progressive proteinuria from 16 weeks onwards. At 8 weeks after IR injury, gene levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2, an ECM-degrading enzyme, were significantly increased. Levels then fell progressively. This was associated with increasing expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP) 1, an inhibitor of MMP-2, and of transforming growth factor (TGF) β, a profibrotic cytokine, by 24 weeks following injury.


These results suggest that, after an initial phase of increased ECM turnover following IR injury, the balance turns towards one of reduced degradation. This is likely to be an important mechanism in the subsequent development of fibrosis. © 2000 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd