HIF1α deletion facilitates adipose stem cells to repair renal fibrosis in diabetic mice

  • Qun Tang
  • Hua Wu
  • Jiushi Lei
  • Chun Yi
  • Wenfeng Xu
  • Wenqu Lan
  • Fang Yang
  • Chunyan Liu


Adipose stem cell (ASC) transplantation is a promising therapeutic strategy for diabetic renal fibrosis. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α) is a negative regulatory factor of mitochondrial function. In the current study, we aimed to explore if HIF1α deletion protects against hyperglycemia-induced ASC damage and enhances the therapeutic efficiency of ASCs in diabetic renal fibrosis. Our data indicated that HIF1α was upregulated in ASCs in response to high glucose stimulation. Higher HIF1α expression was associated with ASC apoptosis and proliferation arrest. Loss of HIF1α activated mitophagy protecting ASCs against high glucose-induced apoptosis via preserving mitochondrial function. Transplanting HIF1α-deleted ASCs in db/db mice improved the abnormalities in glucose metabolic parameters, including the levels of glucose, insulin, C-peptide, HbA1c, and inflammatory markers. In addition, the engraftment of HIF1α-modified ASCs also reversed renal function, decreased renal hypertrophy, and ameliorated renal histological changes in db/db mice. Functional studies confirmed that HIF1α-modified ASCs reduced renal fibrosis. Collectively, our results demonstrate that ASCs may be a promising therapeutic treatment for ameliorating diabetes and the development of renal fibrosis and that the loss of HIF1α in ASCs may further increase the efficiency of stem cell-based therapy. These findings provide a new understanding about the protective effects of HIF1α silencing on ASCs and offer a new strategy for promoting the therapeutic efficacy of ASCs in diabetic renal fibrosis.


ASCs Mitophagy HIF1α Diabetic renal fibrosis 


Authors’ contribution

QT, CYL, and HW conceived the research; QT, JSL, CY, WFX, and WQL performed the experiments; FY and QT analyzed the data; QT and CYL wrote the manuscript; all authors participated in discussing and revising the manuscript.


This study was supported by project supported by National Natural Science Foundation of People’s Republic of China (No. 81503442, No. 81603470) and research project of Hunan Provincial Department of Education (No. 17B197, No. 16B196).

Compliance with ethical standards

Our study was carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the Ethics Committee of Hunan University of Chinese Medicine, Changsha, China. The experimental protocol was approved by Ethics Committee of Hunan University of Chinese Medicine, Changsha, China.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Society for In Vitro Biology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qun Tang
    • 1
  • Hua Wu
    • 2
  • Jiushi Lei
    • 1
  • Chun Yi
    • 1
  • Wenfeng Xu
    • 1
  • Wenqu Lan
    • 1
  • Fang Yang
    • 1
  • Chunyan Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pathology, Medical schoolHunan University of Chinese MedicineChangshaChina
  2. 2.Hunan Furong Judicial Authentication CenterThe Second People’s Hospital of Hunan ProvinceChangshaChina

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