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The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor and its ligands are crucially involved in the renal response to ischaemia. We studied the heparin binding-epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF), a major ligand for the EGF receptor, in experimental and human ischaemia/reperfusion injury (IRI). HB-EGF mRNA and protein expression was studied in rat kidneys and cultured human tubular (HK-2) cells that were subjected to IRI and in human donor kidneys during transplantation. The effect of EGF receptor inhibition was investigated in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, urinary HB-EGF protein excretion was studied after renal transplantation. Finally, HB-EGF KO and WT mice were subjected to IRI to study the role of HB-EGF in renal injury. HB-EGF mRNA was significantly up-regulated in the early phase of IRI in rats, cells, and human donor biopsies. Treatment with PKI-166 reduces macrophage accumulation and interstitial alpha-SMA in the early phase of IRI in rats. In vitro, PKI-166 causes a marked reduction in HB-EGF-induced cellular proliferation. Urinary HB-EGF is increased after transplantation compared with control urines from healthy subjects. HB-EGF KO mice subjected to IRI revealed significantly less morphological damage after IRI, compared with WT mice. We conclude that IRI results in early induction of HB-EGF mRNA and protein in vivo and in vitro. Absence of HB-EGF and inhibition of the EGF receptor in the early phase of IRI has protective effects, suggesting a modulating role for HB-EGF.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pathol

Publication Date





183 - 192


Adult, Aged, Animals, Cells, Cultured, Disease Models, Animal, Epidermal Growth Factor, Female, Heparin-binding EGF-like Growth Factor, Humans, Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Kidney, Kidney Transplantation, Male, Mice, Middle Aged, Pyrimidines, Pyrroles, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Reperfusion Injury, Up-Regulation, Young Adult