Mitochondrial dysfunction causes increased oxidative stress and depletion of ATP, which are involved in the etiology of a variety of renal diseases, such as CKD, AKI, and steroid–resistant nephrotic syndrome. Antioxidant therapies are being investigated, but clinical outcomes have yet to be determined. Recently, we reported that a newly synthesized indole derivative, mitochonic acid 5 (MA-5), increases cellular ATP level and survival of fibroblasts from patients with mitochondrial disease. MA-5 modulates mitochondrial ATP synthesis independently of oxidative phosphorylation and the electron transport chain. Here, we further investigated the mechanism of action for MA-5. Administration of MA-5 to an ischemia-reperfusion injury model and a cisplatin–induced nephropathy model improved renal function. In in vitro bioenergetic studies, MA-5 facilitated ATP production and reduced the level of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) without affecting activity of mitochondrial complexes I–IV. Additional assays revealed that MA-5 targets the mitochondrial protein mitofilin at the crista junction of the inner membrane. In Hep3B cells, overexpression of mitofilin increased the basal ATP level, and treatment with MA-5 amplified this effect. In a unique mitochondrial disease model (Mitomice with mitochondrial DNA deletion that mimics typical human mitochondrial disease phenotype), MA-5 improved the reduced cardiac and renal mitochondrial respiration and seemed to prolong survival, although statistical analysis of survival times could not be conducted. These results suggest that MA-5 functions in a manner differing from that of antioxidant therapy and could be a novel therapeutic drug for the treatment of cardiac and renal diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
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