Studies have demonstrated that oxidaive stress-induced apoptosis may be the main pathogenic mechanism of renal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Theaflavin, a polyphenolic compound extracted from black tea, has been proven to exert strong antioxidant biological function. The objective of the present study was to investigate the potential role of theaflavin on renal I/R injury and its potential molecular mechanism both in vitro and in vivo. C57/BL6 J mice were used to create a model of I/R injury wherein mice were ligated with bilateral renal pedicles for 45 min, and then reperfused for 24 h. A hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R) model of TCMK-1 cells was used to simulate I/R in vitro. Theaflavin were administered to the treatment group first and then established the model. Kidney Injury Molecule-1 (KIM-1), serum creatinine, urea nitrogen, and 24-h urinary protein levels were evaluated and changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and the ultrastructure of mitochondria were observed. Cell viability, oxidative stress damage, and apoptosis were assessed. The expression levels of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and its downstream target genes HO-1 and NQO1 were evaluated. Our results revealed that pretreatment with theaflavin significantly inhibited I/R- and H/R-induced renal injury and cell apoptosis. Theaflavin improved mitochondrial dysfunction by attenuating mitochondrial damage and promoting mitochondrial membrane potential. Theaflavin pretreatment significantly reduced malondialdehyde content, while enhancing superoxide dismutase activity in vivo and in vitro. It also reduced oxidative stress and apoptosis mainly by upregulating Nrf2 and its downstream targets in TCMK-1 cells. Thus, theaflavin exerted a protective effect against renal I/R injury by inhibiting oxidative stress and apoptosis via activation of the Nrf2-NQO1/HO-1 pathway as well as correcting mitochondrial dysfunction, thereby presenting its potential as a clinical therapeutic in cases of acute kidney injury.
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