Impairment of the carnitine/organic cation transporter 1-ergothioneine axis is mediated by intestinal transporter dysfunction in chronic kidney disease.Kidney Int. 2017 12; 92(6):1356-1369.KI
Carnitine/organic cation transporter 1 (OCTN1) is a specific transporter of the food-derived antioxidant ergothioneine. Ergothioneine is absorbed by intestinal OCTN1, distributed through the bloodstream, and incorporated into each organ by OCTN1. OCTN1 expression is upregulated in injured tissues, and promotes ergothioneine uptake to reduce further damage caused by oxidative stress. However, the role of the OCTN1-ergothioneine axis in kidney-intestine cross-talk and chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression remains unclear. Here we assessed ergothioneine uptake via intestinal OCTN1 and confirmed the expression of OCTN1. The ability of OCTN1 to absorb ergothioneine was diminished in mice with CKD. In combination with OCTN1 dysfunction, OCTN1 localization on the intestinal apical cellular membrane was disturbed in mice with CKD. Proteomic analysis, RT-PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry revealed that PDZ (PSD95, Dlg, and ZO1), a PDZK1 domain-containing protein that regulates the localization of transporters, was decreased in mice with CKD. Decreased intestinal ergothioneine uptake from food decreased ergothioneine levels in the blood of mice with CKD. Despite increased OCTN1 expression and ergothioneine uptake into the kidneys of mice with CKD, ergothioneine levels did not increase. To identify the role of the OCTN1-ergothioneine axis in CKD, we evaluated kidney damage and oxidative stress in OCTN1-knockout mice with CKD and found that kidney fibrosis worsened. Oxidative stress indicators were increased in OCTN1-knockout mice. Moreover, ergothioneine levels in the blood of patients with CKD decreased, which were restored after kidney transplantation. Thus, a novel inter-organ interaction mediated by transporters is associated with CKD progression.