Introduction: Uremic retention solutes have been alleged to induce the apoptotic program of different cell types, including peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes (PBL), which may contribute to uremic leukopenia and immune dysfunction. Methods: The molecular effects of these solutes were investigated in uremic PBL (u-PBL) and mononuclear cell lines (THP-1 and K562) exposed to the high molecular weight fraction of uremic plasma (u-HMW) prepared by in vitro ultrafiltration with 50 kDa cut-off microconcentrators. Results: u-PBL show reduced cell viability and increased apoptotic death compared to healthy control PBL (c-PBL). u-HMW induce apoptosis both in u-PBL and c-PBL, as well as in mononuclear cell lines, also stimulating cellular H2O2 formation and secretion, IRE1-& alpha;-mediated endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling, and JNK/cJun pathway activation. Also, u-HMW induce autophagy in THP-1 monocytes. u-PBL were characterized by the presence in their cellular proteome of the main proteins and carbonylation targets of u-HMW, namely albumin, transferrin, and fibrinogen, and by the increased expression of receptor for advanced glycation end-products, a scavenger receptor with promiscuous ligand binding properties involved in leukocyte activation and endocytosis. Conclusions: Large uremic solutes induce abnormal endocytosis and terminal alteration of cellular proteostasis mechanisms in PBL, including UPR/ER stress response and autophagy, ultimately activating the JNK-mediated apoptotic signaling of these cells. These findings describe the suicidal role of immune cells in facing systemic proteostasis alterations of kidney disease patients, a process that we define as the immuno-proteostasis response of uremia.
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