Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(3):701-713. doi:10.7150/ijbs.29323 This issue

Research Paper

Sirt6 Suppresses High Glucose-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Podocytes through AMPK Activation

Yanqin Fan, Qian Yang, Yingjie Yang, Zhao Gao, Yiqiong Ma, Lu Zhang, Wei Liang, Guohua Ding

Division of Nephrology, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Fan Y, Yang Q, Yang Y, Gao Z, Ma Y, Zhang L, Liang W, Ding G. Sirt6 Suppresses High Glucose-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Podocytes through AMPK Activation. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(3):701-713. doi:10.7150/ijbs.29323. Available from

File import instruction


Graphic abstract

Previous studies have shown that mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in high- glucose(HG)-induced podocyte injury and thus contributes to the progression of diabetic nephropathy(DN). The histone deacetylase Sirtuin6 (Sirt6) has been revealed to have an essential role in the regulation of mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle and cardiomyocytes. However, its specific role in mitochondrial homeostasis in podocytes is undetermined. Here, we aimeds to explore the physiological function of Sirt6 in podocyte mitochondria and apoptosis under HG conditions and explore the possible mechanism. Herein, we observed that Sirt6-WT-1 colocalization was suppressed in the glomeruli of patients with DN. In addition, diabetic mice exhibited reduced Sirt6 expression and AMP kinase (AMPK) dephosphorylation accompanied by mitochondrial morphological abnormalities. In vitro, podocytes exposed to HG presented with mitochondrial morphological alterations and podocyte apoptosis accompanied by Sirt6 and p-AMPK downregulation. In addition, HG promoted a decrease in mitochondrial number and an increase in mitochondrial superoxide production as well as a decreased mitochondrial membrane potential. ROS production was also increased in HG-treated podocytes. Conversely, all these mitochondrial defects induced by HG were significantly alleviated by Sirt6 plasmid transfection. Sirt6 overexpression simultaneously alleviated HG-induced podocyte apoptosis and oxidative stress, as well as increased AMPK phosphorylation. Increased levels of H3K9ac and H3K56ac induced by HG were attenuated in podocytes transfected with Sirt6 plasmids. Therefore, these results elucidated that Sirt6 protects mitochondria of podocytes and exerts anti-apoptotic effects via activating AMPK pathway. The present findings provide key insights into the pivotal role of mitochondria regulation by SIRT6 in its protective effects on podocytes.

Keywords: diabetic nephropathy, Sirt6, podocytes, mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis