Dexamethasone prevents podocyte apoptosis induced by puromycin aminonucleoside: Role of p53 and Bcl-2-related family proteins

Academic Article


  • Nephrotic-range proteinuria is due to glomerular diseases characterized by podocyte injury. Glucocorticoids are the standard of care for most forms of nephrotic syndrome. However, the precise mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of glucocorticoids on podocytes, beyond its general immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects, are still unknown. This study tested the hypothesis that the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone directly reduces podocyte apoptosis. Growth-restricted immortalized mouse podocytes in culture were exposed to puromycin aminonucleoside (PA) to induce apoptosis. Our results showed that dexamethasone significantly reduced PA-induced apoptosis by 2.81-fold. Dexamethasone also rescued podocyte viability when exposed to PA. PA-induced apoptosis was associated with increased p53 expression, which was completely blocked by dexamethasone. Furthermore, the inhibition of p53 by the p53 inhibitor pifithrin-α protected against PA-induced apoptosis. Dexamethasone also lowered the increase in the proapoptotic Bax, which was increased by PA, and increased expression of the antiapoptotic Bcl-xL protein. Moreover, the decrease in p53 by dexamethasone was associated with increased Bcl-xL levels. Podocyte apoptosis induced by PA was caspase-3 independent but was associated with the translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) from the cytoplasm to nuclei. AIF translocation was inhibited by dexamethasone. These results show that PA-induced podocyte apoptosis is p53 dependent and associated with changes in Bcl-2-related proteins and AIF translocation. The protective effects of dexamethasone on PA-induced apoptosis were associated with decreasing p53, increasing Bcl-xL, and inhibition of AIF translocation. These novel findings provide new insights into the beneficial effects of corticosteroids on podocytes directly, independent of its immunosuppressive effects. Copyright © 2005 by the American Society of Nephrology.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wada T; Pippin JW; Marshall CB; Griffin SV; Shankland SJ
  • Start Page

  • 2615
  • End Page

  • 2625
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 9