To confer further therapeutic potential and prevent some adverse effects by the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) transplantation, we explored the effects of locally intrarenal arterial administration of hypoxic preconditioned MSCs in the anti-Thy1.1 induced rat glomerulonephritis. Proteinuria, histochemical staining, and western blotting were used to explore the therapeutic effects and mechanisms. Locally intrarenal arterial MSCs transplantation successfully implanted the fluorescent or CD44 labeled MSCs in the nephritic glomeruli, ameliorated proteinuria, and glomerulosclerosis in nephritic rats. Hypoxic preconditioning significantly upregulated hypoxic inducible factor-1α/VEGF (HIF-1α/VEGF) in the MSCs and was more efficient than normoxic MSCs in reducing the degree of urinary protein, glomerulosclerosis, fibrosis, macrophage/monocyte infiltration, GRP78 mediated endoplasmic reticulum stress, Beclin-1/LC3-II mediated autophagy, and Bax/Bcl-2/caspase 3 mediated apoptosis. Hypoxic MSCs could further promote intranuclear nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2, Nrf2) and reduce nuclear factor kappa B expression in nephritic kidneys. As compared to normoxic MSCs, hypoxic MSCs transplantation significantly upregulated the renal expression of anti-oxidative response elements/enzymes including glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit, glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit, glutathione peroxidase, catalase, Mn, and Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase. In summary, intrarenal hypoxic preconditioning MSCs transplantation was more effective to activate hypoxic inducible factor-1α/VEGF/Nrf2 (HIF1α/VEGF/Nrf2) signaling, preserve anti-oxidant proteins and anti-oxidative responsive element proteins, and subsequently reduce glomerular apoptosis, autophagy, and inflammation.
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