Ischemia/reperfusion is a common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI). However, mechanisms underlying the sudden loss in kidney function and tissue injury remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we investigated the role of peptidyl arginine deiminase-4 (PAD4), which converts arginine to citrulline and plays a role in epigenetic regulation and inflammation, in renal ischemia/reperfusion injury. PAD4 expression was highly induced in infiltrating leukocytes 24 hours following renal ischemia and reperfusion. This induction was accompanied by citrullination of histone H3 and formation of neutrophil extracellular traps in kidneys of wild-type mice. By contrast, PAD4-deficient mice did not form neutrophil extracellular traps, expressed lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and were partially protected from renal ischemia/reperfusion-induced AKI. Furthermore, PAD4-deficient mice recovered kidney function 48 hours after ischemia/reperfusion, whereas kidney function in the wild-type mice progressively worsened. Administration of DNase I, which degrades neutrophil extracellular traps or the PAD-specific inhibitor YW3-56 before ischemia, partially prevented renal ischemia/reperfusion-induced AKI. Notably, transfer of neutrophils from wild-type, but not from PAD4-deficient mice, was sufficient to restore renal neutrophil extracellular trap formation and impair kidney function following renal ischemia/reperfusion. Thus, neutrophil PAD4 plays a pivotal role in renal ischemia/reperfusion-induced AKI.
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