Vascular smooth muscle cells contribute to APOL1-induced podocyte injury in HIV milieu

Xiqian Lan, Hongxiu Wen, Moin A Saleem, Joanna Mikulak, Ashwani Malhotra, Karl Skorecki, Pravin C Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical reports have demonstrated that higher rates of non-diabetic glomerulosclerosis in African Americans can be attributed to two coding sequence variants (G1 and G2) in the APOL1 gene; however, the underlying mechanism is still unknown. Kidney biopsy data suggest enhanced expression of APOL1/APOL1 variants (Vs) in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) of renal vasculature. Since APOL1 is a secretory protein of relatively low molecular weight (41kDa), SMCs may be a contributory endocrine/paracrine source of APOL1 wild type (WT)/APOL1Vs in the glomerular capillary perfusate percolating podocytes. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that an HIV milieu stimulated secretion of APOL1 and its risk variants by arterial SMCs contributes to podocyte injury. Human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells (HSMCs)-treated with conditioned media (CM) of HIV-infected peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMC/HIV-CM), CM of HIV-infected U939 cells, or recombinant IFN-γ displayed enhanced expression of APOL1. Podocytes co-cultured in trans-wells with HSMCs-over expressing APOL1WT showed induction of injury; however, podocytes co-cultured with HSMC-over expressing either APOL1G1 or APOL1G2 showed several folds greater injury when compared to HSMC-over expressing APOL1WT. Conditioned media collected from HSMC-over-expressing APOL1G1/APOL1G2 (HSMC/APOL1G1-CM or HSMC/APOL1G2-CM) also displayed higher percentages of injured podocytes in the form of swollen cells, leaky lysosomes, loss of viability, and enhanced sensitivity to adverse host factors when compared to HSMC/APOL1WT-CM. Notably, HSMC/APOL1WT-CM promoted podocyte injury only at a significantly higher concentrations compared to HSMC/APOL1G1/G2-CM. We conclude that HSMCs could serve as an endocrine/paracrine source of APOL1Vs, which mediate accelerated podocyte injury in HIV milieu.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-501
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental and Molecular Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Apolipoproteins
  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • HIV
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Monocytes
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular
  • Podocytes


Dive into the research topics of 'Vascular smooth muscle cells contribute to APOL1-induced podocyte injury in HIV milieu'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this