Cyclosporine induces different responses in human epithelial, endothelial and fibroblast cell cultures

Ciro Esposito, Alessia Fornoni, Flavia Cornacchia, Nicoletta Bellotti, Gianluca Fasoli, Annalisa Foschi, Iolanda Mazzucchelli, Tiziana Mazzullo, Luca Semeraro, Antonio Dal Canton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nephrotoxicity, accelerated atherosclerosis, and graft vascular disease are common complications of cyclosporine long-term treatment characterized by a wide disruption of organ architecture with increased interstitial areas and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM). How cyclosporine induces these changes is not clear, but it is conceivable that they are the sum of changes induced at the cell level. Methods: We studied the effects of cyclosporine on human endothelial (HEC), epithelial (HK-2), and fibroblast (MRC5) cells. Cell proliferation was evaluated by call counting, apoptosis and collagen production by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and nitric oxide by measuring the concentration of nitrite/nitrate in the cell supernatant. (α1)I and (α2)IV collagen, matrix metallapratease-9 (MMP9), and tissue inhibitors of metalloprotease-1 (TIMP-1) mRNA levels were measured by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Proteolytic activity was evaluated by zymography. Results: Cyclosporine showed a marked antiproliferative and proapoptotic effect on endothelial and epithelial cells. Fibroblast growth was not affected by cyclosporine. Nitric oxide was up-regulated by cyclosporine in epithelial cells and fibroblasts but not in endothelial cells. (α1)I and (α2)IV collagen synthesis was increased in cyclosporine-treated endothelial and epithelial cells, respectively. Proteolytic activity was increased in endothelial and epithelial cells. TIMP- 1 mRNA was upregulated by cyclosporine in fibroblasts. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that cyclosporine exhibits an antiproliferative effect on endothelial and epithelial cells. This effect is associated with induction of apoptosis probably via nitric oxide up-regulation in epithelial cell cultures. Cyclosporine treatment induces ECM accumulation by increasing collagen synthesis in endothelial and epithelial cells and reducing its degradation by up-regulating TIMP-1 expression in fibroblasts. We conclude that cyclosporine affects cell types differently and that the disruption of organ architecture is the result of multiple effects at the cell level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalKidney International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell proliferation
  • Matrix turnover
  • Nitric oxide
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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