Nifedipine (NF) is reported to have many beneficial effects in antihypertensive therapy. Recently, we found that NF induced lipid accumulation in renal tubular cells. Palmitic acid-induced renal lipotoxicity was found to be partially mediated by endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress, while it can also be elicited by NF in kidney cells, we examined the induction of suspected pathways in both in vitro and in vivo models. NRK52E cells cultured in high-glucose medium were treated with NF (30 µM) for 24–48 h. ER stress-induced lipotoxicity was explored by staining with thioflavin T and Nile red, transmission electron microscopy, terminal uridine nick-end labeling, and Western blotting. ER stress was also investigated in rats with induced chronic kidney disease (CKD) fed NF for four weeks. NF induced the production of unfolded protein aggregates, resulting in ER stress, as evidenced by the upregulation of glucose-regulated protein, 78 kDa (GRP78), activating transcription factor 6α (ATF6α), C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP), and caspases-12,-3, and-7. In vitro early apoptosis was more predominant than late apoptosis. Most importantly, ATF6α was confirmed to play a unique role in NF-induced ER stress in both models. CKD patients with hypertension should not undergo NF therapy. In cases where it is required, alleviation of ER stress should be considered to avoid further damaging the kidneys.
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