Controversial hypotheses exist as to whether hypoxic kidneys produce biologically active erythropoietin (Ep) or an inactive erythropoietic factor that generates Ep from plasma protein in the blood. To clarify the role of the kidney in Ep production we attempted to extract Ep from kidneys of normal and of hypoxia exposed (6 h at 0.42 atm) Sprague-Dawley rats. Ep was measured in the microsomal fraction of kidney homogenates, using the exhypoxic polycythemic mouse assay for Ep. The Ep content was also determined in kidneys that were flushed free of blood with isotonic phosphate-buffer prior to extirpation. We found 0.04 U Ep/g in blood-depleted kidneys of normal rats. Upon exposure of the animals to hypoxia the Ep level increased to 0.92 U/g kidney. Ep levels were significantly higher in the kidney cortex than in the medulla. The erythropoietic activity in renal extracts was not enhanced after incubation of samples with homologous serum. Ep extracted from hypoxic kidneys behaved identically with plasma-Ep in the following biochemical tests: heat stability, affinity chromatography with wheat germ lectin, ion exchange chromatography, molecular sieve chromatography and neuraminidase inactivation. These studies support the hypothesis that kidney cortex cells are capable of producing biologically active Ep.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)