The renal phenotype of allopurinol-treated HPRT-deficient mouse

Cristina Zennaro, Federica Tonon, Paola Zarattini, Milan Clai, Alessandro Corbelli, Michele Carraro, Marialaura Marchetti, Luca Ronda, Gianluca Paredi, Maria Pia Rastaldi, Riccardo Percudani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excess of uric acid is mainly treated with xanthine oxidase (XO) inhibitors, also called uricostatics because they block the conversion of hypoxanthine and xanthine into urate. Normally, accumulation of upstream metabolites is prevented by the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) enzyme. The recycling pathway, however, is impaired in the presence of HPRT deficiency, as observed in Lesch-Nyhan disease. To gain insights into the consequences of purine accumulation with HPRT deficiency, we investigated the effects of the XO inhibitor allopurinol in Hprt-lacking (HPRT-/-) mice. Allopurinol was administered in the drinking water of E12-E14 pregnant mothers at dosages of 150 or 75 μg/ml, and mice sacrificed after weaning. The drug was well tolerated by wild-type animals and heterozygous HPRT+/- mice. Instead, a profound alteration of the renal function was observed in the HPRT-/- model. Increased hypoxanthine and xanthine concentrations were found in the blood. The kidneys showed a yellowish appearance, diffuse interstitial nephritis, with dilated tubules, inflammatory and fibrotic changes of the interstitium. There were numerous xanthine tubular crystals, as determined by HPLC analysis. Oil red O staining demonstrated lipid accumulation in the same location of xanthine deposits. mRNA analysis showed increased expression of adipogenesis-related molecules as well as profibrotic and proinflammatory pathways. Immunostaining showed numerous monocyte-macrophages and overexpression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in the tubulointerstitium. In vitro, addition of xanthine to tubular cells caused diffuse oil red O positivity and modification of the cell phenotype, with loss of epithelial features and appearance of mesenchymal characteristics, similarly to what was observed in vivo. Our results indicate that in the absence of HPRT, blockade of XO by allopurinol causes rapidly developing renal failure due to xanthine deposition within the mouse kidney. Xanthine seems to be directly involved in promoting lipid accumulation and subsequent phenotype changes of tubular cells, with activation of inflammation and fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173512
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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