Renal tubular injury is considered as the main pathological feature of acute kidney injury (AKI), and mitochondrial dysfunction in renal tubular cells is implicated in the pathogenesis of AKI. The estrogen-related receptor γ (ERRγ) is a member of orphan nuclear receptors which plays a regulatory role in mitochondrial biosynthesis, energy metabolism and many metabolic pathways. Online datasets showed a dominant expression of ERRγ in renal tubules, but the role of ERRγ in AKI is still unknown. In the present study, we investigated the role of ERRγ in the pathogenesis of AKI and the therapeutic efficacy of ERRγ agonist DY131 in several murine models of AKI. ERRγ expression was reduced in kidneys of AKI patients and AKI murine models along with a negative correlation to the severity of AKI. Consistently, silencing ERRγ in vitro enhanced cisplatin-induced tubular cells apoptosis, while ERRγ overexpression in vivo utilizing hydrodynamic-based tail vein plasmid delivery approach alleviated cisplatin-induced AKI. ERRγ agonist DY131 could enhance the transcriptional activity of ERRγ and ameliorate AKI in various murine models. Moreover, DY131 attenuated the mitochondrial dysfunction of renal tubular cells and metabolic disorders of kidneys in AKI, and promoted the expression of the mitochondrial transcriptional factor A (TFAM). Further investigation showed that TFAM could be a target gene of ERRγ and DY131 might ameliorate AKI by enhancing ERRγ-mediated TFAM expression protecting mitochondria. These findings highlighted the protective effect of DY131 on AKI, thus providing a promising therapeutic strategy for AKI.

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