During sepsis, the alarmin HMGB1 is released from tissues and promotes systemic inflammation that results in multi-organ damage, with the kidney particularly susceptible to injury. The severity of inflammation and pro-damage signaling mediated by HMGB1 appears to be dependent on the alarmin's redox state. Therefore, we examined HMGB1 redox in kidney cells during sepsis. Using intravital microscopy, CellROX labeling of kidneys in live mice indicated increased ROS generation in the kidney perivascular endothelium and tubules during lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced sepsis. Subsequent CellROX and MitoSOX labeling of LPS-stressed endothelial and kidney proximal tubule cells demonstrated increased ROS generation in these cells as sepsis worsens. Consequently, HMGB1 oxidation increased in the cytoplasm of kidney cells during its translocation from the nucleus to the circulation, with the degree of oxidation dependent on the severity of sepsis, as measured in in vivo mouse samples using a thiol assay and mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The greater the oxidation of HMGB1, the greater the ability of the alarmin to stimulate pro-inflammatory cyto-/chemokine release (measured by Luminex Multiplex) and alter mitochondrial ATP generation (Luminescent ATP Detection Assay). Administration of glutathione and thioredoxin inhibitors to cell cultures enhanced HMGB1 oxidation during sepsis in endothelial and proximal tubule cells, respectively. In conclusion, as sepsis worsens, ROS generation and HMGB1 oxidation increases in kidney cells, which enhances HMGB1's pro-inflammatory signaling. Conversely, the glutathione and thioredoxin systems work to maintain the protein in its reduced state.
Abdulmahdi, W., Patel, D., Rabadi, M., Azar, T., Jules, E., Lipphardt, M., Hashemiyoon, R., & Ratliff, B. B. (2017). HMGB1 Redox During Sepsis. Redox Biology, 13, 600-607. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2017.08.001