Roles of NRF2 in protecting the kidney from oxidative damage

Masahiro Nezu, Norio Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Over 10% of the global population suffers from kidney disease. However, only kidney replacement therapies, which burden medical expenses, are currently effective in treating kidney disease. Therefore, elucidating the complicated molecular pathology of kidney disease is an urgent priority for developing innovative therapeutics for kidney disease. Recent studies demonstrated that intertwined renal vasculature often causes ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), which generates oxidative stress, and that the accumulation of oxidative stress is a common pathway underlying various types of kidney disease. We reported that activating the antioxidative transcription factor Nrf2 in renal tubules in mice with renal IRI effectively mitigates tubular damage and interstitial fibrosis by inducing the expression of genes related to cytoprotection against oxidative stress. Additionally, since the kidney performs multiple functions beyond blood purification, renoprotection by Nrf2 activation is anticipated to lead to various benefits. Indeed, our experiments indicated the possibility that Nrf2 activation mitigates anemia, which is caused by impaired production of the erythroid growth factor erythropoietin from injured kidneys, and moderates organ damage worsened by anemic hypoxia. Clinical trials investigating Nrf2-activating compounds in kidney disease patients are ongoing, and beneficial effects are being obtained. Thus, Nrf2 activators are expected to emerge as first-in-class innovative medicine for kidney disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2951
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 2


  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Erythropoietin
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • Kidney fibrosis
  • Nrf2-activating compounds


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