Renal ischemia is among the leading causes of acute kidney injury (AKI). Previous studies have shown that extracellular adenosine is a prominent tissue-protective cue elicited during ischemia, including signaling events through the adenosine receptor 2b (Adora2b). To investigate the functional role of Adora2b signaling in cytokine-mediated inflammatory pathways, we screened wild-type and Adora2b-deficient mice undergoing renal ischemia for expression of a range of inflammatory cytokines. These studies demonstrated a selective and robust increase of TNF-α levels in Adora2b-deficient mice following renal ischemia and reperfusion. Based on these findings, we next sought to understand the contribution of TNF-α on ischemic AKI through a combination of loss- and gain-of-function studies. Loss of TNF-α, through either Ab blockade or study of Tnf-α-deficient animals, resulted in significantly attenuated tissue injury and improved kidney function following renal ischemia. Conversely, transgenic mice with overexpression of TNF-α had significantly pronounced susceptibility to AKI. Furthermore, neutrophil depletion or reconstitution of Adora2b-/- mice with Tnf-α-deficient neutrophils rescued their phenotype. In total, these data demonstrate a critical role of adenosine signaling in constraining neutrophil-dependent production of TNF-α and implicate therapies targeting TNF-α in the treatment of ischemic AKI.
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