Why is D-serine nephrotoxic and α-aminoisobutyric acid protective?

Alexander W. Krug, Katharina Völker, William H. Dantzler, Stefan Silbernagl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


D-Serine selectively causes necrosis of S3 segments of proximal tubules in rats. This leads to aminoaciduria and glucosuria. Coinjection of the nonmetabolizable amino acid α-aminoisobutyric acid (AIB) prevents the tubulopathy. D-serine is selectively reabsorbed in S3, thereby gaining access to peroxisomal D-amino acid oxidase (D-AAO). D-AAO-mediated metabolism produces reactive oxygen species. We determined the fractional excretion of amino acids and glucose in rats after intraperitoneal injection of D-serine alone or together with reduced glutathione (GSH) or AIB. Both compounds prevented the hyperaminoaciduria. We measured GSH concentrations in renal tissue before (control) and after D-serine injection and found that GSH levels decreased to ∼30% of control. This decrease was prevented when equimolar GSH was coinjected with D-serine. To find out why AIB protected the tubule from D-serine toxicity, we microinfused D-[14C]serine or [ 14C]AIB (0.36 mmol/l) together with [3H]inulin in late proximal tubules in vivo and measured the radioactivity in the final urine. Fractional reabsorption of D-[14C]serine and [14C]AIB amounted to 55 and 70%, respectively, and 80 mmol/l of AIB or D-serine mutually prevented reabsorption to a great extent. D-AAO activity measured in vitro (using D-serine as substrate) was not influenced by a 10-fold higher AIB concentration. We conclude from these results that 1) D-AAO-mediated D-serine metabolism lowers renal GSH concentrations and thereby provokes tubular damage because reduction of reactive oxygen species by GSH is diminished and 2) AIB prevents D-serine-induced tubulopathy by inhibition of D-serine uptake in S3 segments rather than by interfering with intracellular D-AAO-mediated D-serine metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F382-F390
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • D-serine toxicity
  • Glutathione
  • Kidney
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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