Objective: Tumor necrosis factor superfamily protein 14 (TNFSF14) was recently identified as a risk factor in some fibrosis diseases. However, the role of TNFSF14 in renal fibrosis pathogenesis remains unknown.

Results: It was found that TNFSF14 levels were significantly increased both in UUO-induced renal fibrotic mice and in patients with fibrotic nephropathy, compared with those in controls. Accordingly, Tnfsf14 deficiency led to a marked reduction in renal fibrosis lesions and inflammatory cytokines expression in the UUO mice. Furthermore, the levels of Sphk1, a critical molecule that causes fibrotic nephropathy, were remarkably reduced in Tnfsf14 KO mice with UUO surgery. In vitro recombinant TNFSF14 administration markedly up-regulated the expression of Sphk1 of primary mouse renal tubular epithelial cells (mTECs).

Conclusion: TNFSF14 is a novel pro-fibrotic factor of renal fibrosis, for which TNFSF14 up-regulates Sphk1 expression, which may be the underlying mechanism of TNFSF14-mediated renal fibrosis.

Methods: We investigated the effect of TNFSF14 on renal fibrosis and the relationship between TNFSF14 and pro-fibrotic factor sphingosine kinase 1 (Sphk1) by using the unilateral urethral obstruction (UUO)-induced mice renal fibrosis as a model and the specimen of patients with fibrosis nephropathy, by Masson trichrome staining, immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR, and western blot analysis.