Red blood cell antibody-induced anemia causes differential degrees of tissue hypoxia in kidney and brain

Nikhil Mistry, C. David Mazer, John G. Sled, Alan H. Lazarus, Lindsay S. Cahill, Max Solish, Yu Qing Zhou, Nadya Romanova, Alexander G.M. Hare, Allan Doctor, Joseph A. Fisher, Keith R. Brunt, Jeremy A. Simpson, Gregory M.T. Hare

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33 Scopus citations


Moderate anemia is associated with increased mortality and morbidity, including acute kidney injury (AKI), in surgical patients. A red blood cell (RBC)-specific antibody model was utilized to determine whether moderate subacute anemia could result in tissue hypoxia as a potential mechanism of injury. Cardiovascular and hypoxic cellular responses were measured in transgenic mice capable of expressing hypoxia-inducible factor-1β (HIF-1β)/luciferase activity in vivo. Antibody-mediated anemia was associated with mild intravascular hemolysis (6 h) and splenic RBC sequestration (day 4), resulting in a nadir hemoglobin concentration of 89 ± 13 g/l on day 4. At this time point, renal tissue oxygen tension (PtO2) was decreased in anemic mice relative to controls (13.1 ± 4.3 vs. 20.8 ± 3.7 mmHg, P < 0.001). Renal tissue hypoxia was associated with an increase in HIF/luciferase expression in vivo (P = 0.04) and a 20-fold relative increase in renal erythropoietin mRNA transcription (P < 0.001) but no increase in renal blood flow (P = 0.67). By contrast, brain PtO2was maintained in anemic mice relative to controls (22.7 ± 5.2 vs. 23.4 ± 9.8 mmHg, P = 0.59) in part because of an increase in internal carotid artery blood flow (80%, P < 0.001) and preserved cerebrovascular reactivity. Despite these adaptive changes, an increase in brain HIF-dependent mRNA levels was observed (erythropoietin: P < 0.001; heme oxygenase-1: P = 0.01), providing evidence for subtle cerebral tissue hypoxia in anemic mice. These data demonstrate that moderate subacute anemia causes significant renal tissue hypoxia, whereas adaptive cerebrovascular responses limit the degree of cerebral tissue hypoxia. Further studies are required to assess whether hypoxia is a mechanism for acute kidney injury associated with anemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R611-R622
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 16 2018


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Anemia-induced tissue hypoxia
  • Subacute anemia


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