Urinary mitochondrial DNA copy number identifies renal mitochondrial injury in renovascular hypertensive patients undergoing renal revascularization: A Pilot Study

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Aims: Patients with renovascular hypertension (RVH) exhibit elevated urinary mtDNA copy numbers, considered to constitute surrogate markers of renal mitochondrial injury. The modest success of percutaneous transluminal renal angioplasty (PTRA) in restoring renal function in RVH has been postulated to be partly attributable to acute reperfusion injury. We hypothesized that mitoprotection during revascularization would ameliorate PTRA–induced renal mitochondrial injury, reflected in elevated urinary mtDNA copy numbers and improve blood pressure and functional outcomes 3 months later. Methods: We prospectively measured urinary copy number of the mtDNA genes COX3 and ND1 using qPCR in RVH patients before and 24 hrs after PTRA, performed during IV infusion of vehicle (n = 8) or the mitoprotective drug elamipretide (ELAM, 0.05 mg/kg/h, n = 6). Five healthy volunteers (HV) served as controls. Urinary mtDNA levels were also assessed in RVH and normal pigs (n = 7 each), in which renal mitochondrial structure and density were studied ex-vivo. Results: Baseline urinary mtDNA levels were elevated in all RVH patients vs HV and directly correlated with serum creatinine levels. An increase in urinary mtDNA 24 hours after PTRA was blunted in PTRA+ELAM vs PTRA+Placebo. Furthermore, 3-months after PTRA, systolic blood pressure decreased and estimated glomerular filtration rate increased only in ELAM–treated subjects. In RVH pigs, mitochondrial damage was observed using electron microscopy in tubular cells and elevated urinary mtDNA levels correlated inversely with renal mitochondrial density. Conclusions: PTRA leads to an acute rise in urinary mtDNA, reflecting renal mitochondrial injury that in turn inhibits renal recovery. Mitoprotection might minimize PTRA–associated mitochondrial injury and improve renal outcomes after revascularization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13267
JournalActa Physiologica
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • mitochondria
  • mtDNA
  • PTRA
  • renovascular hypertension
  • revascularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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