Acute Kidney Injury-Induced Circulating TNFR1/2 Elevations Correlate with Persistent Kidney Injury and Progression to Fibrosis

Akshayakeerthi Arthanarisami, Yohei Komaru, Charikleia Katsouridi, Julian Schumacher, Deborah K. Verges, Liang Ning, Mai M. Abdelmageed, Andreas Herrlich, Eirini Kefaloyianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevated levels of circulating tumor necrosis factor receptors 1 and 2 (cTNFR1/2) predict chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression; however, the mechanisms of their release remain unknown. Whether acute kidney injury (AKI) drives cTNFR1/2 elevations and whether they predict disease outcomes after AKI remain unknown. In this study, we used AKI patient serum and urine samples, mouse models of kidney injury (ischemic, obstructive, and toxic), and progression to fibrosis, nephrectomy, and related single-cell RNA-sequencing datasets to experimentally test the role of kidney injury on cTNFR1/2 levels. We show that TNFR1/2 serum and urine levels are highly elevated in all of the mouse models of kidney injury tested, beginning within one hour post injury, and correlate with its severity. Consistent with this, serum and urine TNFR1/2 levels are increased in AKI patients and correlate with the severity of kidney failure. Kidney tissue expression of TNFR1/2 after AKI is only slightly increased and bilateral nephrectomies lead to strong cTNFR1/2 elevations, suggesting the release of these receptors by extrarenal sources. The injection of the uremic toxin indoxyl sulfate in healthy mice induces moderate cTNFR1/2 elevations. Moreover, TNF neutralization does not affect early cTNFR1/2 elevations after AKI. These data suggest that cTNFR1/2 levels in AKI do not reflect injury-induced TNF activity, but rather a rapid response to loss of kidney function and uremia. In contrast to traditional disease biomarkers, such as serum creatinine or BUN, cTNFR1/2 levels remain elevated for weeks after severe kidney injury. At these later timepoints, cTNFR1/2 levels positively correlate with remaining kidney injury. During the AKI-to-CKD transition, elevations of TNFR1/2 kidney expression and of cTNFR2 levels correlate with kidney fibrosis levels. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that kidney injury drives acute increases in cTNFR1/2 serum levels, which negatively correlate with kidney function. Sustained TNFR1/2 elevations after kidney injury during AKI-to-CKD transition reflect persistent tissue injury and progression to kidney fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2214
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • circulating TNFR1/2
  • fibrosis
  • kidney injury
  • progression


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