Tubular cell apoptosis significantly contributes to cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury (AKI) pathogenesis. Although KCa3.1, a calcium-activated potassium channel, participates in apoptosis, its involvement in cisplatin-induced AKI is unknown. Here, we found that cisplatin treatment triggered an early induction of KCa3.1 expression associated with HK-2 cell apoptosis, the development of renal tubular damage, and apoptosis in mice. Treatment with the highly selective KCa3.1 blocker TRAM-34 suppressed cisplatin-induced HK-2 cell apoptosis. We further assessed whether KCa3.1 mediated cisplatin-induced AKI in genetic knockout and pharmacological blockade mouse models. KCa3.1 deficiency reduced renal function loss, renal tubular damage, and the induction of the apoptotic marker caspase-3 in the kidneys of cisplatin-treated KCa3.1−/− mice. Pharmacological blockade of KCa3.1 by TRAM-34 similarly attenuated cisplatin-induced AKI in mice. Furthermore, we dissected the mechanisms underlying cisplatin-induced apoptosis reduction via KCa3.1 blockade. We found that KCa3.1 blockade attenuated cytochrome c release and the increase in the intrinsic apoptotic mediators Bax, Bak, and caspase-9 after cisplatin treatment. KCa3.1 blocking inhibited the cisplatin-induced activation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress mediator caspase-12, which is independent of calcium-dependent protease m-calpain activation. Taken together, KCa3.1 blockade protects against cisplatin-induced AKI through the attenuation of apoptosis by interference with intrinsic apoptotic and ER stress-related mediators, providing a potential target for the prevention of cisplatin-induced AKI.
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