IL-18 (Interleukin-18) Produced by Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells Promotes Renal Inflammation and Injury during Deoxycorticosterone/Salt-Induced Hypertension in Mice

Jordyn M. Thomas, Yeong H. Ling, Brooke Huuskes, Maria Jelinic, Prerna Sharma, Narbada Saini, Dorota M. Ferens, Henry Diep, Shalini M. Krishnan, Barbara K. Kemp-Harper, Paul M. O'Connor, Eicke Latz, Thiruma V. Arumugam, Tomasz J. Guzik, Michael J. Hickey, Ashley Mansell, Christopher G. Sobey, Antony Vinh, Grant R. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


IL-18 (interleukin-18) is elevated in hypertensive patients, but its contribution to high blood pressure and end-organ damage is unknown. We examined the role of IL-18 in the development of renal inflammation and injury in a mouse model of low-renin hypertension. Hypertension was induced in male C57BL6/J (WT) and IL-18-/-mice by uninephrectomy, deoxycorticosterone acetate (2.4 mg/d, s.c.) and 0.9% drinking saline (1K/DOCA/salt). Normotensive controls received uninephrectomy and placebo (1K/placebo). Blood pressure was measured via tail cuff or radiotelemetry. After 21 days, kidneys were harvested for (immuno)histochemical, quantitative-PCR and flow cytometric analyses of fibrosis, inflammation, and immune cell infiltration. 1K/DOCA/salt-treated WT mice developed hypertension, renal fibrosis, upregulation of proinflammatory genes, and accumulation of CD3+T cells in the kidneys. They also displayed increased expression of IL-18 on tubular epithelial cells. IL-18-/-mice were profoundly protected from hypertension, renal fibrosis, and inflammation. Bone marrow transplantation between WT and IL-18-/-mice revealed that IL-18-deficiency in non-bone marrow-derived cells alone afforded equivalent protection against hypertension and renal injury as global IL-18 deficiency. IL-18 receptor subunits - interleukin-18 receptor 1 and IL-18R accessory protein - were upregulated in kidneys of 1K/DOCA/salt-treated WT mice and localized to T cells and tubular epithelial cells. T cells from kidneys of 1K/DOCA/salt-treated mice produced interferon-γ upon ex vivo stimulation with IL-18, whereas those from 1K/placebo mice did not. In conclusion, IL-18 production by tubular epithelial cells contributes to elevated blood pressure, renal inflammation, and fibrosis in 1K/DOCA/salt-treated mice, highlighting it as a promising therapeutic target for hypertension and kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1309
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • blood pressure
  • fibrosis
  • hypertension
  • inflammation
  • interleukin-18

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