The macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, is deregulated in acute kidney injury (AKI) through an unknown mechanism. In the present study, we used a previously described mouse model of ascending urinary tract infection in which uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) were transurethrally inoculated to induce kidney infections. Here, we show that urinary MIF was upregulated during AKI while MIF was abundantly expressed in the renal cortical tubules and that UPEC infection caused a decrease in tubular MIF. Infections with UPEC in vitro caused MIF release in a cell type-dependent manner, which was independent of receptor-mediated internalization, signal transduction, and transcription. Indeed, UPEC infection-induced necrotic cell death in vitro and in vivo correlated with extracellular acidification and processed MIF secretion. These data suggest that MIF is released by necrotic renal cortical tubular cells during UPEC infection.
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