FSGS is a heterogeneous fibrosing disease of the kidney, the cause of which remains poorly understood. In most cases, there is no effective treatment to halt or retard progression to renal failure. Increasing evidence points to mitochondrial dysfunction and the generation of reactive oxygen species in the pathogenesis of CKD. Autophagy, a major intracellular lysosomal degradation system, performs homeostatic functions linked to metabolism and organelle turnover. We prevented normal autophagic pathways in nephrons of mice by mutating critical autophagy genes ATG5 or ATG7 during nephrogenesis. Mutant mice developed mild podocyte and tubular dysfunction within 2 months, profound glomerular and tubular changes bearing close similarity to human disease by 4 months, and organ failure by 6 months. Ultrastructurally, podocytes and tubular cells showed vacuolization, abnormal mitochondria, and evidence of endoplasmic reticulum stress, features that precede the appearance of histologic or clinical disease. Similar changes were observed in human idiopathic FSGS kidney biopsy specimens. Biochemical analysis of podocytes and tubules of 2-month-old mutant mice revealed elevated production of reactive oxygen species, activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways, phosphorylation of p38, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, cultured proximal tubule cells isolated from mutant mice showed marked mitochondrial dysfunction and elevated mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation that was suppressed by a mitochondrial superoxide scavenger. We conclude that mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum stress due to impaired autophagic organelle turnover in podocytes and tubular epithelium are sufficient to cause many of the manifestations of FSGS in mice.
The very limited ability of adult podocytes to proliferate in vivo is clinically significant because podocytes form a vascular barrier that is functionally critical to the nephron, podocyte hypoplasia is a characteristic of disease, and inadequate regeneration of podocytes is a major cause of persistent podocyte hypoplasia. Excessive podocyte loss or inadequate replacement leads to glomerulosclerosis in many progressive kidney diseases. Thus, restoration of podocyte cell density almost certainly is reliant on regeneration by podocyte progenitors. However, such putative progenitors have remained elusive until recently. In this review, we describe the developmental processes leading to podocyte and parietal epithelial cell (PEC) formation during glomerulogenesis. We compare evidence that in normal human kidneys PECs expressing progenitor markers CD133 and CD24 can differentiate into podocytes in vitro and in vivo, with evidence from animal models suggesting a more limited role of the PEC's capacity to serve as a podocyte progenitor in adults. We highlight tantalizing new evidence that specialized vascular wall cells of afferent arterioles, including those that produce renin in healthy kidney, provide a novel local progenitor source of new PECs and podocytes in response to podocyte hypoplasia in the adult, and draw comparisons with glomerulogenesis.
Pericytes surround endothelial cells at the perivascular interface. Signaling between endothelial cells and pericytes is crucial for capillary homeostasis, as pericytes stabilize vessels and regulate many microvascular functions. Recently it has been shown that pericytes are able to detach from the vascular wall and contribute to fibrosis by becoming scar-forming myofibroblasts in many organs including the kidney. At the same time, the loss of pericytes within the perivascular compartment results in vulnerable capillaries which are prone to instability, pathological angiogenesis, and, ultimately, rarefaction.
Fibrosis is a characteristic feature of all forms of chronic kidney disease. Deposition of pathological matrix in the interstitial space and within the walls of glomerular capillaries as well as the cellular processes resulting in this deposition are increasingly recognized as important factors amplifying kidney injury and accelerating nephron demise. Recent insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of fibrogenesis herald the promise of new therapies to slow kidney disease progression. This review focuses on new findings that enhance understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms of fibrosis, the characteristics of myofibroblasts, their progenitors, and molecular pathways regulating both fibrogenesis and its resolution.
Fibrosis of the peritoneal cavity remains a serious, life-threatening problem in the treatment of kidney failure with peritoneal dialysis. The mechanism of fibrosis remains unclear partly because the fibrogenic cells have not been identified with certainty. Recent studies have proposed mesothelial cells to be an important source of myofibroblasts through the epithelial-mesenchymal transition; however, confirmatory studies in vivo are lacking. Here, we show by inducible genetic fate mapping that type I collagen-producing submesothelial fibroblasts are specific progenitors of ?-smooth muscle actin-positive myofibroblasts that accumulate progressively in models of peritoneal fibrosis induced by sodium hypochlorite, hyperglycemic dialysis solutions, or TGF-?1. Similar genetic mapping of Wilms' tumor-1-positive mesothelial cells indicated that peritoneal membrane disruption is repaired and replaced by surviving mesothelial cells in peritoneal injury, and not by submesothelial fibroblasts. Although primary cultures of mesothelial cells or submesothelial fibroblasts each expressed ?-smooth muscle actin under the influence of TGF-?1, only submesothelial fibroblasts expressed ?-smooth muscle actin after induction of peritoneal fibrosis in mice. Furthermore, pharmacologic inhibition of the PDGF receptor, which is expressed by submesothelial fibroblasts but not mesothelial cells, attenuated the peritoneal fibrosis but not the remesothelialization induced by hypochlorite. Thus, our data identify distinctive fates for injured mesothelial cells and submesothelial fibroblasts during peritoneal injury and fibrosis.
Myofibroblasts secrete matrix during chronic injury, and their ablation ameliorates fibrosis. Development of new biomarkers and therapies for CKD will be aided by a detailed analysis of myofibroblast gene expression during the early stages of fibrosis. However, dissociating myofibroblasts from fibrotic kidney is challenging. We therefore adapted translational ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) to isolate and profile mRNA from myofibroblasts and their precursors during kidney fibrosis. We generated and characterized a transgenic mouse expressing an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-tagged L10a ribosomal subunit protein under control of the collagen1?1 promoter. We developed a one-step procedure for isolation of polysomal RNA from collagen1?1-eGFPL10a mice subject to unilateral ureteral obstruction and analyzed and validated the resulting transcriptional profiles. Pathway analysis revealed strong gene signatures for cell proliferation, migration, and shape change. Numerous novel genes and candidate biomarkers were upregulated during fibrosis, specifically in myofibroblasts, and we validated these results by quantitative PCR, in situ, and Western blot analysis. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of early myofibroblast gene expression during kidney fibrosis and introduces a new technique for cell-specific polysomal mRNA isolation in kidney injury models that is suited for RNA-sequencing technologies.
Aging nephropathy is characterized by podocyte depletion accompanied by progressive glomerulosclerosis. Replacement of terminally differentiated podocytes by local stem/progenitor cells is likely a critical mechanism for their regeneration. Recent studies have shown that cells of renin lineage (CoRL), normally restricted to the kidney's extraglomerular compartment, might serve this role after an abrupt depletion in podocyte number. To determine the effects of aging on the CoRL reserve and if CoRL moved from an extra- to the intraglomerular compartment during aging, genetic cell fate mapping was performed in aging Ren1cCre × Rs-ZsGreen reporter mice. Podocyte number decreased and glomerular scarring increased with advanced age. CoRL number decreased in the juxtaglomerular compartment with age. There was a paradoxical increase in CoRL in the intraglomerular compartment at 52 and 64 wk of age, where a subset coexpressed the podocyte proteins nephrin, podocin, and synaptopodin. Transmission electron microscopy studies showed that a subset of labeled CoRL in the glomerulus displayed foot processes, which attached to the glomerular basement membrane. No CoRL in the glomerular compartment stained for renin. These results suggest that, despite a decrease in the reserve, a subpopulation of CoRL moves to the glomerulus after chronic podocyte depletion in aging nephropathy, where they acquire a podocyte-like phenotype. This suggests that they might serve as adult podocyte stem/progenitor cells under these conditions, albeit in insufficient numbers to fully replace podocytes depleted with age.
Ifosfamide is a nitrogen mustard alkylating agent used as both a first-line and a salvage chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of testicular germ cell tumors, various sarcomas, carcinomas, and some lymphomas. A well-known complication of ifosfamide therapy is transient acute kidney injury. However, in a minority of patients, the reduction in kidney function is progressive and permanent, sometimes occurring long after exposure to ifosfamide. Scattered reports have described the pathologic findings in kidneys permanently affected by ifosfamide toxicity. We present the findings of an illustrative case and review the pathology and molecular mechanisms of long-term ifosfamide toxicity with implications for personalized medicine.
Fibrosis of the kidney glomerulus and interstitium are characteristic features of almost all chronic kidney diseases. Fibrosis is tightly associated with destruction of capillaries, inflammation, and epithelial injury which progresses to loss of nephrons, and replacement of kidney parenchyma with scar tissue. Understanding the origins and nature of the cells known as myofibroblasts that make scar tissue is central to development of new therapeutics for kidney disease. Whereas many cell lineages in the body have become defined by well-established markers, myofibroblasts have been much harder to identify with certainty. Recent insights from genetic fate mapping and the use of dynamic reporting of cells that make fibrillar collagen in mice have identified with greater clarity the major population of myofibroblasts and their precursors in the kidney. This review will explore the nature of these cells in health and disease of the kidney to underst and their central role in the pathogenesis of kidney disease.
Therapy to slow the relentless expansion of interstitial extracellular matrix that leads to renal functional decline in patients with CKD is currently lacking. Because chronic kidney injury increases tissue oxidative stress, we evaluated the antifibrotic efficacy of cysteamine bitartrate, an antioxidant therapy for patients with nephropathic cystinosis, in a mouse model of unilateral ureteral obstruction. Fresh cysteamine (600 mg/kg) was added to drinking water daily beginning on the day of surgery, and outcomes were assessed on days 7, 14, and 21 after surgery. Plasma cysteamine levels showed diurnal variation, with peak levels similar to those observed in patients with cystinosis. In cysteamine-treated mice, fibrosis severity decreased significantly at 14 and 21 days after unilateral ureteral obstruction, and renal oxidized protein levels decreased at each time point, suggesting reduced oxidative stress. Consistent with these results, treatment of cultured macrophages with cysteamine reduced cellular generation of reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, treatment with cysteamine reduced ?-smooth muscle actin-positive interstitial myofibroblast proliferation and mRNA levels of extracellular matrix proteins in mice and attenuated myofibroblast differentiation and proliferation in vitro, but did not augment TGF-? signaling. In a study of renal ischemia reperfusion, cysteamine therapy initiated 10 days after injury and continued for 14 days decreased renal fibrosis by 40%. Taken together, these data suggest previously unrecognized antifibrotic actions of cysteamine via TGF-?-independent mechanisms that include oxidative stress reduction and attenuation of the myofibroblast response to kidney injury and support further investigation into the potential benefit of cysteamine therapy in the treatment of CKD.
Recent reports have highlighted greater complexity, plasticity, and functional diversity of mononuclear phagocytes (MPCs), including monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells (DCs), in our organs than previously understood. The functions and origins of MPCs resident within healthy organs, especially in the kidney, are less well understood, whereas studies suggest they play roles in disease states distinct from recruited monocytes. We developed an unbiased approach using flow cytometry to analyze MPCs residing in the normal mouse kidney, and identified five discrete subpopulations according to CD11b/CD11c expression as well as F4/80, CD103, CD14, CD16, and CD64 expression. In addition to distinct marker profiles, these subpopulations have different lineages and expression of genes involved in tissue homeostasis, including angiogenesis. Among them, the CD11b(int)CD11c(int) F4/80(high) subpopulation notably exhibited high capacity to produce a representative anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10. Each subpopulation had different degrees of both macrophage (phagocytosis) and DC (Ag presentation) capacities, with a tendency to promote differentiation of regulatory T cells, whereas two of these showed expression of transcription factors reported to be highly expressed by classical DCs, and proclivity to exit the kidney following stimulation with LPS. In summary, resident kidney MPCs comprise discrete subpopulations, which cannot be simply classified into the conventional entities, and they produce anti-inflammatory and tissue-homeostatic factors to differing degrees.
We examined the effects of increased expression of proximal tubule peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)? in a mouse model of renal fibrosis. After 5 days of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO), PPAR? expression was significantly reduced in kidney tissue of wild-type mice but this downregulation was attenuated in proximal tubules of PPAR? transgenic (Tg) mice. When compared with wild-type mice subjected to UUO, PPAR? Tg mice had reduced mRNA and protein expression of proximal tubule transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1, with reduced production of extracellular matrix proteins including collagen 1, fibronectin, ?-smooth muscle actin, and reduced tubulointerstitial fibrosis. UUO-mediated increased expression of microRNA 21 in kidney tissue was also reduced in PPAR? Tg mice. Overexpression of PPAR? in cultured proximal tubular cells by adenoviral transduction reduced aristolochic acid-mediated increased production of TGF-?, demonstrating PPAR? signaling reduces epithelial TGF-? production. Flow cytometry studies of dissociated whole kidneys demonstrated reduced macrophage infiltration to kidney tissue in PPAR? Tg mice after UUO. Increased expression of proinflammatory cytokines including IL-1?, IL-6, and TNF-? in wild-type mice was also significantly reduced in kidney tissue of PPAR? Tg mice. In contrast, the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and arginase-1 was significantly increased in kidney tissue of PPAR? Tg mice when compared with wild-type mice subjected to UUO. Our studies demonstrate several mechanisms by which preserved expression of proximal tubule PPAR? reduces tubulointerstitial fibrosis and inflammation associated with obstructive uropathy.
Pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts have emerged as poorly appreciated yet extensive populations of mesenchymal cells in the kidney that play important roles in homeostasis and responses to injury. This review will update readers on the evolving understanding of the biology of these cells.
Pathological deposition of fibrous matrix in organs is a major problem and contributes to as many as 45% of all natural deaths. Chronic kidney disease affects 8% of the US population, and is characterized by fibrotic processes. It frequently progresses to organ failure and is a major cause of cardiovascular death; yet it lacks therapies. Understanding the pathological mechanisms of fibrosis in the kidney and other organs is central to the development of new therapeutics.
In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), progressive accumulation of cardiac fibrosis promotes heart failure. While the cellular origins of fibrosis in DMD hearts remain enigmatic, fibrotic tissue conspicuously forms near the coronary adventitia. Therefore, we sought to characterize the role of coronary adventitial cells in the formation of perivascular fibrosis. Utilizing the mdx model of DMD, we have identified a population of Sca1+, PDGFR?+, CD31-, and CD45- coronary adventitial cells responsible for perivascular fibrosis. Histopathology of dystrophic hearts revealed that Sca1+ cells extend from the adventitia and occupy regions of perivascular fibrosis. The number of Sca1+ adventitial cells increased two-fold in fibrotic mdx hearts vs. age matched wild-type hearts. Moreover, relative to Sca1-, PDGFR?+, CD31-, and CD45- cells and endothelial cells, Sca1+ adventitial cells FACS-sorted from mdx hearts expressed the highest level of Collagen1?1 and 3?1, Connective tissue growth factor, and Tgf?r1 transcripts. Surprisingly, mdx endothelial cells expressed the greatest level of the Tgf?1 ligand. Utilizing Collagen1?1-GFP reporter mice, we confirmed that the majority of Sca1+ adventitial cells expressed type I collagen, an abundant component of cardiac fibrosis, in both wt (71%±4.1) and mdx (77%±3.5) hearts. In contrast, GFP+ interstitial fibroblasts were PDGFR?+ but negative for Sca1. Treatment of cultured Collagen1?1-GFP+ adventitial cells with TGF?1 resulted in increased collagen synthesis, whereas pharmacological inhibition of TGF?R1 signaling reduced the fibrotic response. Therefore, perivascular cardiac fibrosis by coronary adventitial cells may be mediated by TGF?1 signaling. Our results implicate coronary endothelial cells in mediating cardiac fibrosis via transmural TGF? signaling, and suggest that the coronary adventitia is a promising target for developing novel anti-fibrotic therapies.
Glomerular injury leads to podocyte loss, a process directly underlying progressive glomerular scarring and decline of kidney function. The inherent repair process is limited by the inability of podocytes to regenerate. Cells of renin lineage residing alongside glomerular capillaries are reported to have progenitor capacity. We investigated whether cells of renin lineage can repopulate the glomerulus after podocyte injury and serve as glomerular epithelial cell progenitors. Kidney cells expressing renin were genetically fate-mapped in adult Ren1cCreER×Rs-tdTomato-R, Ren1cCre×Rs-ZsGreen-R, and Ren1dCre×Z/EG reporter mice. Podocyte depletion was induced in all three cell-specific reporter mice by cytotoxic anti-podocyte antibodies. After a decrease in podocyte number, a significant increase in the number of labeled cells of renin lineage was observed in glomeruli in a focal distribution along Bowmans capsule, within the glomerular tuft, or in both locations. A subset of cells lining Bowmans capsule activated expression of the glomerular parietal epithelial cell markers paired box protein PAX2 and claudin-1. A subset of labeled cells within the glomerular tuft expressed the podocyte markers Wilms tumor protein 1, nephrin, podocin, and synaptopodin. Neither renin mRNA nor renin protein was detected de novo in diseased glomeruli. These findings provide initial evidence that cells of renin lineage may enhance glomerular regeneration by serving as progenitors for glomerular epithelial cells in glomerular disease characterized by podocyte depletion.
Microvascular disease, a characteristic of acute and chronic kidney diseases, leads to rarefaction of peritubular capillaries (PTCs), promoting secondary ischemic injury, which may be central to disease progression. Bidirectional signaling by EphB4 receptor and ephrinB2 ligand is critical for angiogenesis during murine development, suggesting that ephrinB2 reverse signaling may have a role in renal angiogenesis induced by injury or fibrosis. Here, we found that ephrinB2 reverse signaling is activated in the kidney only after injury. In mice lacking the PDZ intracellular signaling domain of ephrinB2 (ephrinB2 ?V), angiogenesis was impaired and kidney injury led to increased PTC rarefaction and fibrosis. EphrinB2 ?V primary kidney pericytes migrated more than wild-type pericytes and were less able to stabilize capillary tubes in three-dimensional culture and less able to stimulate synthesis of capillary basement membrane. EphrinB2 ?V primary kidney microvascular endothelial cells migrated and proliferated less than wild-type microvascular endothelial cells in response to vascular endothelial growth factor A and showed less internalization and activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2. Taken together, these results suggest that PDZ domain-dependent ephrinB2 reverse signaling protects against PTC rarefaction by regulating angiogenesis and vascular stability during kidney injury. Furthermore, this signaling in kidney pericytes protects against pericyte-to-myofibroblast transition and myofibroblast activation, thereby limiting fibrogenesis.
Mononuclear phagocytic cells (MPCs), including macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), are widely distributed throughout our organs where they perform important homeostatic, surveillance and regenerative tasks. In response to infection or injury, the composition and number of MPCs change remarkably, in part due to the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes from bone marrow. In infection or injury, macrophages and DCs perform important innate and adaptive immune roles from the initial insult through repair and regeneration of the tissue and resolution of inflammation. Evidence from mouse models of disease has shown increasing complexity and subtlety to the mononuclear phagocytic system, which will be reviewed here. New studies show that in addition to monocytes, the resident populations of mononuclear phagocytes expand in disease states and play distinct but important roles in the immune response. Finally, new insights into these functionally diverse cells are now translating into therapeutics to treat human disease.
Wnt signalling is a complex, highly conserved, cell-to-cell communication pathway in multicellular organisms, regulating cell fate, function and phenotype in development, and diseases, including neoplasia. Although the critical role of the Wnt pathway in nephrogenesis is well established, recent investigations have shown its involvement in many adult kidney diseases, including ischaemic kidney injury, glomerular diseases, diabetic nephropathy, interstitial fibrosis and cystic kidney diseases. Overall, activation of the Wnt pathway is deleterious to many chronic diseases of the kidney, contributing to the maintenance of cells in an activated state. In addition, the Wnt pathway is activated during repair and regeneration in animal models of acute ischaemic injury, a scenario that is frequently encountered in human acute kidney injury. This activation recapitulates features of nephrogenesis and appears to play an indispensable role in repair and regeneration in this acute setting. As tools are being developed to regulate the Wnt pathway intracellularly and at the cell surface, the Wnt pathway has become a potential avenue for urgently required novel therapeutics for treating human kidney diseases. In this review, we describe consensus models for major Wnt signalling cascades and then discuss their roles in kidney diseases.
One cornerstone of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is fibrosis, as kidneys are susceptible due to their high vascularity and predisposition to ischemia. Presently, only therapies targeting the angiotensin receptor are used in clinical practice to retard the progression of CKD. Thus, there is a pressing need for new therapies designed to treat the damaged kidney. Several independent laboratories have identified a number of microRNAs that are dysregulated in human and animal models of CKD. This review will explore the evidence suggesting that by blocking the activity of such dysregulated microRNAs, new therapeutics could be developed to treat the progression of CKD.
Chronic kidney disease, defined as loss of kidney function for more than three months, is characterized pathologically by glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, peritubular capillary rarefaction, and inflammation. Recent studies have identified a previously poorly appreciated, yet extensive population of mesenchymal cells, called either pericytes when attached to peritubular capillaries or resident fibroblasts when embedded in matrix, as the progenitors of scar-forming cells known as myofibroblasts. In response to sustained kidney injury, pericytes detach from the vasculature and differentiate into myofibroblasts, a process not only causing fibrosis, but also directly contributing to capillary rarefaction and inflammation. The interrelationship of these three detrimental processes makes myofibroblasts and their pericyte progenitors an attractive target in chronic kidney disease. In this review, we describe current understanding of the mechanisms of pericyte-to-myofibroblast differentiation during chronic kidney disease, draw parallels with disease processes in the glomerulus, and highlight promising new therapeutic strategies that target pericytes or myofibroblasts. In addition, we describe the critical paracrine roles of epithelial, endothelial, and innate immune cells in the fibrogenic process.
There has been much recent interest in lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) signaling through one of its receptors, LPA1, in fibrotic diseases, but the mechanisms by which LPA-LPA1 signaling promotes pathological fibrosis remain to be fully elucidated. Using a mouse peritoneal fibrosis model, we demonstrate central roles for LPA and LPA1 in fibroblast proliferation. Genetic deletion or pharmacological antagonism of LPA1 protected mice from peritoneal fibrosis, blunting the increases in peritoneal collagen by 65.4 and 52.9%, respectively, compared to control animals and demonstrated that peritoneal fibroblast proliferation was highly LPA1 dependent. Activation of LPA1 on mesothelial cells induced these cells to express connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), driving fibroblast proliferation in a paracrine fashion. Activation of mesothelial cell LPA1 induced CTGF expression by inducing cytoskeleton reorganization in these cells, causing nuclear translocation of myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF)-A and MRTF-B. Pharmacological inhibition of MRTF-induced transcription also diminished CTGF expression and fibrosis in the peritoneal fibrosis model, mitigating the increase in peritoneal collagen content by 57.9% compared to controls. LPA1-induced cytoskeleton reorganization therefore makes a previously unrecognized but critically important contribution to the profibrotic activities of LPA by driving MRTF-dependent CTGF expression, which, in turn, drives fibroblast proliferation.
Fibrosis, or the accumulation of extracellular matrix molecules that make up scar tissue, is a common feature of chronic tissue injury. Pulmonary fibrosis, renal fibrosis, and hepatic cirrhosis are among the more common fibrotic diseases, which in aggregate represent a huge unmet clinical need. New appreciation of the common features of fibrosis that are conserved among tissues has led to a clearer understanding of how epithelial injury provokes dysregulation of cell differentiation, signaling, and protein secretion. At the same time, discovery of tissue-specific features of fibrogenesis, combined with insights about genetic regulation of fibrosis, has laid the groundwork for biomarker discovery and validation, and the rational identification of mechanism-based antifibrotic drugs. Together, these advances herald an era of sustained focus on translating the biology of fibrosis into meaningful improvements in quality and length of life in patients with chronic fibrosing diseases.
A pregnant woman presented at gestational week 28 with loss of consciousness and profound polyuria. Further characterization revealed osmotic diuresis due to massive glycosuria without hyperglycemia. Glycosuria reduced substantially postpartum, from ?100 to ?30 g/1.73 m(2) per day. DNA sequencing analysis of the SLC5A2 gene encoding the renal glucose transporter SGLT2 showed a homozygous frame-shift mutation (occurring after the glutamine at amino acid 168 and leading to premature termination of the protein at amino acid 186) diagnostic of familial renal glycosuria. Pregnant women with familial renal glycosuria can be at risk of profound polyuria during pregnancy due to the associated increase in glycosuria. These findings also have implications for the use of SGLT2 inhibitors in clinical practice.
Fibrosis of vital organs is a major public health problem with limited therapeutic options. Mesenchymal cells including microvascular mural cells (pericytes) are major progenitors of scar-forming myofibroblasts in kidney and other organs. Here we show pericytes in healthy kidneys have active WNT/?-catenin signaling responses that are markedly up-regulated following kidney injury. Dickkopf-related protein 1 (DKK-1), a ligand for the WNT coreceptors low-density lipoprotein receptor-related proteins 5 and 6 (LRP-5 and LRP-6) and an inhibitor of WNT/?-catenin signaling, effectively inhibits pericyte activation, detachment, and transition to myofibroblasts in vivo in response to kidney injury, resulting in attenuated fibrogenesis, capillary rarefaction, and inflammation. DKK-1 blocks activation and proliferation of established myofibroblasts in vitro and blocks pericyte proliferation to PDGF, pericyte migration, gene activation, and cytoskeletal reorganization to TGF-? or connective tissue growth factor. These effects are largely independent of inhibition of downstream ?-catenin signaling. DKK-1 acts predominantly by inhibiting PDGF-, TGF-?-, and connective tissue growth factor-activated MAPK and JNK signaling cascades, acting via LRP-6 with associated WNT ligand. Biochemically, LRP-6 interacts closely with PDGF receptor ? and TGF-? receptor 1 at the cell membrane, suggesting that it may have roles in pathways other than WNT/?-catenin. In summary, DKK-1 blocks many of the changes in pericytes required for myofibroblast transition and attenuates established myofibroblast proliferation/activation by mechanisms dependent on LRP-6 and WNT ligands but not the downstream ?-catenin pathway.
Inflammatory macrophages are abundant in kidney disease, stimulating repair, or driving chronic inflammation and fibrosis. Damage associated molecules (DAMPs), released from injured cells engage pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) on macrophages, contributing to activation. Understanding mechanisms of macrophage activation during kidney injury may lead to strategies to alleviate chronic disease. We identified Triggering-Receptor-in-Myeloid-cells (TREM)-1, a regulator of TLR signaling, as highly upregulated in kidney inflammatory macrophages and tested the roles of these receptors in macrophage activation and kidney disease. Kidney DAMPs activated macrophages in vitro, independently of TREM-1, but partially dependent on TLR-2/-4, MyD88. In two models of progressive interstitial kidney disease, TREM-1 blockade had no impact on disease or macrophage activation in vivo, but TLR-2/-4, or MyD88 deficiency was anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic. When MyD88 was mutated only in the myeloid lineage, however, there was no bearing on macrophage activation or disease progression. Instead, TLR-2/-4 or MyD88 deficiency reduced activation of mesenchyme lineage cells resulting in reduced inflammation and fibrosis, indicating that these pathways play dominant roles in activation of myofibroblasts but not macrophages. To conclude, TREM-1, TLR2/4 and MyD88 signaling pathways are redundant in myeloid cell activation in kidney injury, but the latter appear to regulate activation of mesenchymal cells.
The renal mononuclear phagocytic system, conventionally composed of macrophages (Mø) and dendritic cells (DCs), plays a central role in health and disease of the kidney. Overlapping definitions of renal DCs and Mø, stemming from historically separate research tracks and the lack of experimental tools to specifically study the roles of these cells in vivo, have generated confusion and controversy, however, regarding their immunologic function in the kidney. This brief review provides an appraisal of the current state of knowledge of the renal mononuclear phagocytic system interpreted from the perspective of immunologic function. Physical characteristics, ontogeny, and known functions of the main subsets of renal mononuclear phagocytes as they relate to homeostasis, surveillance against injury and infection, and immune-mediated inflammatory injury and repair within the kidney are described. Gaps and inconsistencies in current knowledge are used to create a roadmap of key questions to be answered in future research.
Mice transgenic for thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), under regulation of the lymphocyte-specific promoter Lck, develop cryoglobulinemia and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) similar to the disease in patients. To determine whether infiltrating macrophages, a hallmark of this disease, are deleterious or beneficial in the injury process, we developed Lck-TSLP transgenic mice expressing the human diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) under control of the monocyte/macrophage-restricted CD11b promoter (Lck-TSLP;CD11b-DTR). Treatment with DT resulted in a marked reduction of monocytes/macrophages in the peritoneal cavity of both CD11b-DTR and Lck-TSLP;CD11b-DTR mice and marked reduction of macrophage infiltration in glomeruli of Lck-TSLP;CD11b-DTR mice. Lck-TSLP;CD11b-DTR mice, with or without toxin treatment, had similar levels of cryoglobulinemia and glomerular immunoglobulin deposition as Lck-TSLP mice. Lck-TSLP;CD11b-DTR mice, treated with toxin, had reduced mesangial matrix expansion, glomerular collagen IV accumulation, expression of the activation marker ?-smooth muscle actin and transforming growth factor-?1 in mesangial cells, and proteinuria compared with control mice. Thus, macrophage ablation confers protection in this model and indicates a predominately deleterious role for macrophages in the progression of kidney injury in cryoglobulinemic MPGN.
Pericytes are the major source of scar-producing myofibroblasts following kidney injury; however, the mechanisms of this transition are unclear. To clarify this, we examined Collagen 1 (?1)-green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter mice (pericytes and myofibroblasts express GFP) following ureteral obstruction or ischemia-reperfusion injury and focused on the role of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-receptor (PDGFR) signaling in these two different injury models. Pericyte proliferation was noted after injury with reactivation of ?-smooth muscle actin expression, a marker of the myofibroblast phenotype. PDGF expression increased in injured tubules, endothelium, and macrophages after injury, whereas PDGFR subunits ? and ? were expressed exclusively in interstitial GFP-labeled pericytes and myofibroblasts. When PDGFR? or PDGFR? activation was inhibited by receptor-specific antibody following injury, proliferation and differentiation of pericytes decreased. The antibodies also blunted the injury-induced transcription of PDGF, transforming growth factor ?1, and chemokine CCL2. They also reduced macrophage infiltration and fibrosis. Imatinib, a PDGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, attenuated pericyte proliferation and kidney fibrosis in both fibrogenic models. Thus, PDGFR signaling is involved in pericyte activation, proliferation, and differentiation into myofibroblasts during progressive kidney injury. Hence, pericytes may be a novel target to prevent kidney fibrosis by means of PDGFR signaling blockade.
Over the past decade, modern genetic tools have permitted scientists to study the function of myeloid lineage cells, including macrophages, as never before. Macrophages were first detected more than a century ago as cells that ingested bacteria and other microbes, but it is now known that their functional roles are far more numerous. In this review, we focus on the prevailing functions of macrophages beyond their role in innate immunity. We highlight examples of macrophages acting as regulators of development, tissue homoeostasis, remodeling (the reorganization or renovation of existing tissues) and repair. We also detail how modern genetic tools have facilitated new insights into these mysterious cells.
1. Kidney pericytes were recently identified as collagen I?1-producing cells in healthy kidney, but the developmental, physiological and pathological roles of kidney pericytes remain poorly understood. Pericytes are stromal-derived cells that envelop and have intimate connections with adjacent capillary endothelial cells (EC). Recent studies in the eye and brain have revealed that pericytes are crucial for angiogenesis, vascular stability and vessel integrity. 2. In response to kidney injury, pericytes promptly migrate away from the capillary wall into the interstitial space. Here, pericytes are activated and differentiate into scar-forming myofibroblasts. In the absence of pericytes, peritubular capillaries are destabilized, leading to vascular regression. Consequently, capillary loss and fibrosis following kidney injury are intimately linked and hinge centrally around pericyte detachment from EC. 3. Kinetic mathematical modelling has demonstrated that pericytes are the major source of myofibroblasts in the fibrotic kidney. Comprehensive genetic fate mapping studies of nephron epithelia or kidney stroma has demonstrated that epithelial cells do not migrate outside of the epithelial compartment to become myofibroblasts; rather, interstitial pericytes are progenitors of scar-forming myofibroblasts. Bidirectional signalling between pericytes and EC is necessary for pericyte detachment from peritubular capillaries. 4. In the present review, we summarize the pathologically vital roles of kidney pericytes in fibrosis, including our new findings. The study of kidney pericytes and endothelial-pericyte cross-talk will identify novel therapeutic targets for currently incurable chronic kidney diseases.
Until recently kidney pericytes were little known. This review will update readers about key new findings concerning pericyte abundance, function in kidney vascular biology and major role in fibrogenesis. Moreover readers will become familiar with the central role of pericyte-endothelial interactions in peritubular capillary health or rarefaction and the pivotal role these may play in renal ischemia.
The roles of monocytes/macrophages and their mechanisms of action in the regulation of pancreatitis are poorly understood. To address these issues, we have employed genetically altered mouse strains that either express the human diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) coupled to the CD11b promoter or have global deletion of TNF-?. Targeted, conditional depletion of monocytes/macrophages was achieved by administration of diphtheria toxin (DT) to CD11b-DTR mice. We show that in the absence of DT administration, pancreatitis is associated with an increase in pancreatic content of Ly-6C(hi) monocytes/macrophages but that this response is prevented by prior administration of DT to CD11b-DTR mice. DT administration also reduces pancreatic edema and acinar cell injury/necrosis in two dissimilar experimental models of acute pancreatitis (a secretagogue-induced model and a model elicited by retrograde pancreatic duct infusion of sodium taurocholate). In the secretagogue-elicited model, the DT-induced decrease in pancreatitis severity is reversed by adoptive transfer of purified Ly-6C(hi) monocytes harvested from non-DT-treated CD11b-DTR mice or by the transfer of purified Ly-6C(hi) monocytes harvested from TNF-?(+/+) donor mice, but it is not reversed by the transfer of Ly-6C(hi) monocytes harvested from TNF-?(-/-) donors. Our studies indicate that the Ly-6C(hi) monocyte subset regulates the severity of pancreatitis by promoting pancreatic edema and acinar cell injury/necrosis and that this phenomenon is dependent upon the expression of TNF-? by those cells. They suggest that therapies targeting Ly-6C(hi) monocytes and/or TNF-? expression by Ly-6C(hi) monocytes might prove beneficial in the prevention or treatment of acute pancreatitis.
Microvascular pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts have recently been identified as the source of scar-producing myofibroblasts that appear after injury of the kidney. We show that cross talk between pericytes and endothelial cells concomitantly dictates development of fibrosis and loss of microvasculature after injury. When either platelet-derived growth factor receptor (R)-? signaling in pericytes or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)R2 signaling in endothelial cells was blocked by circulating soluble receptor ectodomains, both fibrosis and capillary rarefaction were markedly attenuated during progressive kidney injury. Blockade of either receptor-mediated signaling pathway prevented pericyte differentiation and proliferation, but VEGFR2 blockade also attenuated recruitment of inflammatory macrophages throughout disease progression. Whereas injury down-regulated angiogenic VEGF164, the dys-angiogenic isomers VEGF120 and VEGF188 were up-regulated, suggesting that pericyte-myofibroblast differentiation triggers endothelial loss by a switch in secretion of VEGF isomers. These findings link fibrogenesis inextricably with microvascular rarefaction for the first time, add new significance to fibrogenesis, and identify novel therapeutic targets.
Chronic kidney diseases (CKD), independent of their primary cause, lead to progressive, irreversible loss of functional renal parenchyma. Renal pathology in CKD is characterized by tubulointerstitial fibrosis with excessive matrix deposition produced by myofibroblasts. Because blocking the formation of these scar-forming cells represents a logical therapeutic target for patients with progressive fibrotic kidney disease, the origin of renal myofibroblasts is a subject of intense investigation. Although the traditional view holds that resident fibroblasts are the myofibroblast precursor, for the last 10 years, injured epithelial cells have been thought to directly contribute to the myofibroblast pool by the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The recent application of genetic fate mapping techniques in mouse fibrosis models has provided new insights into the cell hierarchies in fibrotic kidney disease and results cast doubt on the concept that EMT is a source of myofibroblast recruitment in vivo, but rather point to the resident pericyte/perivascular fibroblast as the myofibroblast progenitor pool. This review will highlight recent findings arguing against EMT as a direct contributor to the kidney myofibroblast population and review the use of genetic fate mapping to elucidate the cellular mechanisms of kidney homeostasis and disease.
For nearly 100 years, developmental biologists have utilized fate mapping to understand the contributions of progenitor populations to organogenesis. More recently, Cre-Lox technology has allowed genetic fate mapping in adult mice, clarifying cell hierarchies in adult kidney disease models. In ischemia-reperfusion injury, genetic labeling of epithelial cells has demonstrated that intrinsic epithelial cells are responsible for nephron repair and not an interstitial or other non-epithelial cell type. In fibrotic kidney injury, fate mapping techniques have strongly challenged the theory that epithelial cells traverse the basement membrane to become myofibroblasts in a process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and also indicate that interstitial pericytes/perivascular fibroblasts are the authentic myofibroblast progenitor pool. This mini review will summarize the fate mapping approach in mice, convey recent developments in kidney disease models, and outline future opportunities to apply this technology to better understand the cellular mechanisms of adult kidney homeostasis and disease.
Kidney damage due to injury rarely resolves completely, and there are currently no therapies capable of promoting repair. In addition to understanding mechanisms by which tissues are damaged, illuminating mechanisms of repair and regeneration is also of great importance. Here we show that the melanoma-associated, transmembrane glycoprotein, Gpnmb, is up-regulated 15-fold following ischemic damage in kidney tissue and by more than 10-fold in macrophages and 3-fold in surviving epithelial cells. Gpnmb-expressing macrophages and epithelial cells were found to contain apoptotic bodies at 3 times the rate of nonexpressing cells. Either mutation of Gpnmb or ablation of inflammatory macrophages prevents normal repair of the kidney. Significantly, the kidneys from postischemic Gpnmb mutant mice exhibited a 5-fold increase in apoptotic cellular debris compared to wild-type mice. These mice also experienced an 85% increase in mortality following bilateral ischemic kidney. Finally, we demonstrate that Gpnmb is a phagocytic protein that is necessary for recruitment of the autophagy protein LC3 to the phagosome where these proteins are colocalized and for lysosomal fusion with the phagosome and hence bulk degradation of their content. Therefore, Gpnmb is a novel prorepair gene that is necessary for crosstalk between the macroautophagic degradation pathway and phagocytosis.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a mechanism for generating primitive mesenchymal cells during gastrulation or mobile tumor cells during cancer metastasis. For 15 years, EMT has also been viewed as a principal source of fibroblasts in tissue fibrosis. Because several recent studies question its role in fibrogenesis, it seems like a good time for debate.
Monocyte-derived tissue effector cells, macrophages, are present in large numbers in all forms of kidney disease with inflammation. Their roles in inflammation and the molecular effectors of macrophage function have been difficult to decipher. With the advent of modern genetic tools and mouse models of human disease, great insight into monocyte/macrophage biology has been forthcoming. This review places macrophage study in its historical context, defines immunologic diseases of the kidney, broadens its definition to encompass current thinking of the immune response to kidney injury, highlights key advances of the study of monocyte/macrophages in kidney diseases, and identifies new therapeutic pathways and targets that hinge around macrophage function. This article advances the case that targeting macrophage activation and phenotype is leading to new therapies in the treatment of many acute and chronic kidney diseases.
Serum amyloid P or pentraxin 2 (PTX2) is a highly phylogenetically conserved, naturally circulating plasma protein and a soluble pattern recognition receptor of the innate immune system. The unique binding activities of PTX2 suggest that it may localize specifically to sites of injury and function to aid in the removal of damaged tissue. The recent discovery of its ability to regulate certain monocyte differentiation states has identified PTX2 as a novel and potentially powerful antifibrotic agent. A fully recombinant form of the human PTX2 protein, designated PRM-151, has recently initiated human clinical trials. Here we review the molecular, cellular and structural biology of PRM-151/PTX2 in vitro and in several in vivo preclinical models of fibrotic disease that demonstrate its potential as a first-in-class natural modulator of fibrotic pathology with significant potential to treat a wide variety of human diseases.
Understanding the mechanisms of repair and regeneration of the kidney after injury is of great interest because there are currently no therapies that promote repair, and kidneys frequently do not repair adequately. We studied the capacity of human CD34(+) hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) to promote kidney repair and regeneration using an established ischemia/reperfusion injury model in mice, with particular focus on the microvasculature.
Macrophages are required for tissue homeostasis through their role in regulation of the immune response and the resolution of injury. Here we show, using the kidney as a model, that the Wnt pathway ligand Wnt7b is produced by macrophages to stimulate repair and regeneration. When macrophages are inducibly ablated from the injured kidney, the canonical Wnt pathway response in kidney epithelial cells is reduced. Furthermore, when Wnt7b is somatically deleted in macrophages, repair of injury is greatly diminished. Finally, injection of the Wnt pathway regulator Dkk2 enhances the repair process and suggests a therapeutic option. Because Wnt7b is known to stimulate epithelial responses during kidney development, these findings suggest that macrophages are able to rapidly invade an injured tissue and reestablish a developmental program that is beneficial for repair and regeneration.
Understanding the origin of myofibroblasts in kidney is of great interest because these cells are responsible for scar formation in fibrotic kidney disease. Recent studies suggest epithelial cells are an important source of myofibroblasts through a process described as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; however, confirmatory studies in vivo are lacking. To quantitatively assess the contribution of renal epithelial cells to myofibroblasts, we used Cre/Lox techniques to genetically label and fate map renal epithelia in models of kidney fibrosis. Genetically labeled primary proximal epithelial cells cultured in vitro from these mice readily induce markers of myofibroblasts after transforming growth factor beta(1) treatment. However, using either red fluorescent protein or beta-galactosidase as fate markers, we found no evidence that epithelial cells migrate outside of the tubular basement membrane and differentiate into interstitial myofibroblasts in vivo. Thus, although renal epithelial cells can acquire mesenchymal markers in vitro, they do not directly contribute to interstitial myofibroblast cells in vivo. Lineage analysis shows that during nephrogenesis, FoxD1-positive((+)) mesenchymal cells give rise to adult CD73(+), platelet derived growth factor receptor beta(+), smooth muscle actin-negative interstitial pericytes, and these FoxD1-derivative interstitial cells expand and differentiate into smooth muscle actin(+) myofibroblasts during fibrosis, accounting for a large majority of myofibroblasts. These data indicate that therapeutic strategies directly targeting pericyte differentiation in vivo may productively impact fibrotic kidney disease.
Roles for monocyte/macrophages (Mphi) in directing the development of tissue fibrosis are increasingly recognized. Macrophages form a heterogeneous group of inflammatory leukocytes, and the mechanisms by which they acquire heterogeneity and its functional significance are unclear. We used the unilateral ureteral obstruction model of progressive kidney fibrosis to explore macrophage heterogeneity and function further. Unilateral ureteral obstruction kidney Mphis form three distinct subpopulations defined by the marker Ly6C, all of which are derived from a single Ly6C(high) bone marrow monocyte population selectively recruited to the kidney. Conditional ablation of these Mphis in vivo in CD11b-DTR mice is potently antifibrotic. The mRNA transcription profile of these populations is consistent with differential functional roles for each subpopulation, with Ly6C(low) macrophages transcribing genes consistent with selective profibrotic or M2-type function. Furthermore, bone marrow chimerism studies indicate that although resident kidney macrophages proliferate markedly to comprise up to 40% of the inflammatory macrophage population, they do not contribute to fibrosis. Our data identify Ly6C as a marker of functionally discrete tissue macrophage subsets and support a model of selective recruitment of Ly6C(high) bone marrow monocytes to the kidney that differentiate into three populations of kidney macrophages, including a profibrotic Ly6C(low) population.
New therapies that target chronic inflammation with fibrosis are urgently required. Increasing evidence points to innate activation of inflammatory cells in driving chronic organ fibrosis. Serum amyloid P is a naturally circulating soluble pattern recognition receptor, a member of the family of pentraxin proteins. It links danger-associated molecular pattern recognition to Fc gamma receptor-mediated phagocytosis. Here we show that fibrosis progression in the mouse kidney is significantly inhibited by therapeutic administration of human serum amyloid P, regulated by activating Fc gamma receptors, and dependent on inflammatory monocytes and macrophages, but not fibrocytes. Human serum amyloid P-mediated inhibition of mouse kidney fibrosis correlated with specific binding of human serum amyloid P to cell debris and with subsequent suppression of inflammatory monocytes and kidney macrophages in vitro and in vivo, and was dependent on regulated binding to activating Fc gamma receptors and interleukin-10 expression. These studies uncover previously unidentified roles for Fc gamma receptors in sterile inflammation and highlight serum amyloid P as a potential antifibrotic therapy through local generation of interleukin-10.
STAT6-mediated chemokine production in the lung is required for Th2 lymphocyte and eosinophil homing into the airways in allergic pulmonary inflammation, and thus is a potential therapeutic target in asthma. However, the critical cellular source of STAT6-mediated chemokine production has not been defined. In this study, we demonstrate that STAT6 in bone marrow-derived myeloid cells was sufficient for the production of CCL17, CCL22, CCL11, and CCL24 and for Th2 lymphocyte and eosinophil recruitment into the allergic airway. In contrast, STAT6 in airway-lining cells did not mediate chemokine production or support cellular recruitment. Selective depletion of CD11b(+) myeloid cells in the lung identified these cells as the critical cellular source for the chemokines CCL17 and CCL22. These data reveal that CD11b(+) myeloid cells in the lung help orchestrate the adaptive immune response in asthma, in part, through the production of STAT6-inducible chemokines and the recruitment of Th2 lymphocytes into the airway.
Fibrosis is a major clinical problem associated with as many as 45% of all natural deaths in developed nations. It can affect all organs and accumulating evidence indicates that fibrogenesis is not merely a bystander product of injury, but is a central pathological problem directly contributing to loss of organ function. In the majority of clinical cases, fibrogenesis is strongly associated with the recruitment of leukocytes, even in the absence of infection. Although chronic infections are a significant cause of fibrogenesis, in most cases fibrotic disease occurs in the context of sterile injury, such as microvascular disease, toxic epithelial injury or diabetes mellitus. Fibrogenesis is a direct consequence of the activation of extensive, and previously poorly appreciated, populations of mesenchymal cells in our organs which are either wrapped around capillaries and known as pericytes, or embedded in interstitial spaces between cell structures and known as resident fibroblasts. Recent fate-mapping and complementary studies in several organs indicate that these cells are the precursors of the scar-forming myofibroblasts that appear in our organs in response to injury. Here we will review the literature supporting a central role for these cells in fibrogenesis, and highlight some of the critical cell to cell interactions that are necessary for the initiation and continuation of the fibrogenic process. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Fibrosis: Translation of basic research to human disease.
Pericytes have been identified as the major source of precursors of scar-producing myofibroblasts during kidney fibrosis. The underlying mechanisms triggering pericyte-myofibroblast transition are poorly understood. Transforming growth factor ?-1 (TGF-?1) is well recognized as a pluripotent cytokine that drives organ fibrosis. We investigated the role of TGF-?1 in inducing profibrotic signaling from epithelial cells to activate pericyte-myofibroblast transition. Increased expression of TGF-?1 was detected predominantly in injured epithelium after unilateral ureteral obstruction, whereas downstream signaling from the TGF-?1 receptor increased in both injured epithelium and pericytes. In mice with ureteral obstruction that were treated with the pan anti-TGF-? antibody (1D11) or TGF-? receptor type I inhibitor (SB431542), kidney pericyte-myofibroblast transition was blunted. The consequence was marked attenuation of fibrosis. In addition, epithelial cell cycle G2/M arrest and production of profibrotic cytokines were both attenuated. Although TGF-?1 alone did not trigger pericyte proliferation in vitro, it robustly induced ? smooth muscle actin (?-SMA). In cultured kidney epithelial cells, TGF-?1 stimulated G2/M arrest and production of profibrotic cytokines that had the capacity to stimulate proliferation and transition of pericytes to myofibroblasts. In conclusion, this study identified a novel link between injured epithelium and pericyte-myofibroblast transition through TGF-?1 during kidney fibrosis.
Myofibroblasts accumulate in the spaces between organ structures and produce extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including collagen I. They are the primary "effector" cells in tissue remodeling and fibrosis. Previously, leukocyte progenitors termed fibrocytes and myofibroblasts generated from epithelial cells through epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were considered the primary sources of ECM-producing myofibroblasts in injured tissues. However, genetic fate mapping experiments suggest that mesenchyme-derived cells, known as resident fibroblasts, and pericytes are the primary precursors of scar-forming myofibroblasts, whereas epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and myeloid leukocytes contribute to fibrogenesis predominantly by producing key fibrogenic cytokines and by promoting cell-to-cell communication. Numerous cytokines derived from T cells, macrophages, and other myeloid cell populations are important drivers of myofibroblast differentiation. Monocyte-derived cell populations are key regulators of the fibrotic process: They act as a brake on the processes driving fibrogenesis, and they dismantle and degrade established fibrosis. We discuss the origins, modes of activation, and fate of myofibroblasts in various important fibrotic diseases and describe how manipulation of macrophage activation could help ameliorate fibrosis.
CD248 (tumor endothelial marker 1/endosialin) is found on stromal cells and is highly expressed during malignancy and inflammation. Studies have shown a reduction in inflammatory arthritis in CD248-knockout (CD248(-/-) ) mice. The aim of the present study was to investigate the functional effect of genetic deletion of CD248 on bone mass.
The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family of transcription factors orchestrates cell-fate specification, commitment and differentiation in multiple cell lineages during development. Here, we describe the role of a bHLH transcription factor, Tcf21 (epicardin/Pod1/capsulin), in specification of the cardiac fibroblast lineage. In the developing heart, the epicardium constitutes the primary source of progenitor cells that form two cell lineages: coronary vascular smooth muscle cells (cVSMCs) and cardiac fibroblasts. Currently, there is a debate regarding whether the specification of these lineages occurs early in the formation of the epicardium or later after the cells have entered the myocardium. Lineage tracing using a tamoxifen-inducible Cre expressed from the Tcf21 locus demonstrated that the majority of Tcf21-expressing epicardial cells are committed to the cardiac fibroblast lineage prior to initiation of epicardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, Tcf21 null hearts fail to form cardiac fibroblasts, and lineage tracing of the null cells showed their inability to undergo EMT. This is the first report of a transcription factor essential for the development of cardiac fibroblasts. We demonstrate a unique role for Tcf21 in multipotent epicardial progenitors, prior to the process of EMT that is essential for cardiac fibroblast development.
Fibrosis of the kidney is a disease affecting millions worldwide and is a harbinger of progressive loss of organ function resulting in organ failure. Recent findings suggest that understanding mechanisms of development and progression of fibrosis will lead to new therapies urgently required to counteract loss of organ function. Recently, little-known cells that line the kidney microvasculature, known as pericytes, were identified as the precursor cells which become the scar-forming myofibroblasts. Kidney pericytes are extensively branched cells located in the wall of capillaries, embedded within the microvascular basement membrane, and incompletely envelope endothelial cells with which they establish focal contacts. In response to kidney injuries, pericytes detach from endothelial cells and migrate into the interstitial space where they undergo a transition into myofibroblasts. Detachment leads to fibrosis but also leaves an unstable endothelium, prone to rarefaction. Endothelial-pericyte crosstalk at the vascular endothelial growth factor receptors and platelet derived growth factor receptors in response to injury have been identified as major new targets for therapeutic intervention.
Kidney pericytes are progenitors of scar-forming interstitial myofibroblasts that appear after injury. The function of kidney pericytes as microvascular cells and how these cells detach from peritubular capillaries and migrate to the interstitial space, however, are poorly understood. Here, we used an unbiased approach to identify genes in kidney pericytes relevant to detachment and differentiation in response to injury in vivo, with a particular focus on genes regulating proteolytic activity and angiogenesis. Kidney pericytes rapidly activated expression of a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-1 (ADAMTS1) and downregulated its inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3) in response to injury. Similarly to brain pericytes, kidney pericytes bound to and stabilized capillary tube networks in three-dimensional gels and inhibited metalloproteolytic activity and angiogenic signaling in endothelial cells. In contrast, myofibroblasts did not have these vascular stabilizing functions despite their derivation from kidney pericytes. Pericyte-derived TIMP3 stabilized and ADAMTS1 destabilized the capillary tubular networks. Furthermore, mice deficient in Timp3 had a spontaneous microvascular phenotype in the kidney resulting from overactivated pericytes and were more susceptible to injury-stimulated microvascular rarefaction with an exuberant fibrotic response. Taken together, these data support functions for kidney pericytes in microvascular stability, highlight central roles for regulators of extracellular proteolytic activity in capillary homoeostasis, and identify ADAMTS1 as a marker of activation of kidney pericytes.
Scarring of the kidney is a major public health concern, directly promoting loss of kidney function. To understand the role of microRNA (miRNA) in the progression of kidney scarring in response to injury, we investigated changes in miRNA expression in two kidney fibrosis models and identified 24 commonly up-regulated miRNAs. Among them, miR-21 was highly elevated in both animal models and in human transplanted kidneys with nephropathy. Deletion of miR-21 in mice resulted in no overt abnormality. However, miR-21(-/-) mice suffered far less interstitial fibrosis in response to kidney injury, a phenotype duplicated in wild-type mice treated with anti-miR-21 oligonucleotides. Global derepression of miR-21 target mRNAs was readily detectable in miR-21(-/-) kidneys after injury. Analysis of gene expression profiles up-regulated in the absence of miR-21 identified groups of genes involved in metabolic pathways, including the lipid metabolism pathway regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-? (Ppar?), a direct miR-21 target. Overexpression of Ppar? prevented ureteral obstruction-induced injury and fibrosis. Ppar? deficiency abrogated the antifibrotic effect of anti-miR-21 oligonucleotides. miR-21 also regulated the redox metabolic pathway. The mitochondrial inhibitor of reactive oxygen species generation Mpv17l was repressed by miR-21, correlating closely with enhanced oxidative kidney damage. These studies demonstrate that miR-21 contributes to fibrogenesis and epithelial injury in the kidney in two mouse models and is a candidate target for antifibrotic therapies.
Evidence is lacking for direct pathogenicity of human anti-proteinase-3 (PR3) antibodies in development of systemic vasculitis and granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA, Wegeners granulomatosis). Progress in study of these antibodies in rodents has been hampered by lack of PR3 expression on murine neutrophils, and by different Fc-receptor affinities for IgG across species. Therefore, we tested whether human anti-PR3 antibodies can induce acute vasculitis in mice with a human immune system. Chimeric mice were generated by injecting human haematopoietic stem cells into irradiated NOD-scid-IL2R??/? mice. Matched chimera mice were treated with human IgG from patients with: anti-PR3 positive renal and lung vasculitis; patients with non-vasculitic renal disease; or healthy controls. Six-days later, 39% of anti-PR3 treated mice had haematuria, compared with none of controls. There was punctate bleeding on the surface of lungs of anti-PR3 treated animals, with histological evidence of vasculitis and haemorrhage. Anti-PR3 treated mice had mild pauci-immune proliferative glomerulonephritis, with infiltration of human and mouse leukocytes. In 3 mice (17%) more severe glomerular injury was present. There were no glomerular changes in controls. Human IgG from patients with anti-PR3 autoantibodies is therefore pathogenic. This model of anti-PR3 antibody-mediated vasculitis may be useful in dissecting mechanisms of microvascular injury.
Elastin has been linked to maturity of liver fibrosis. To date, the regulation of elastin secretion and its degradation in liver fibrosis has not been characterized. The aim of this work was to define elastin accumulation and the role of the paradigm elastase macrophage metalloelastase (MMP-12) in its turnover during fibrosis. Liver fibrosis was induced by either intraperitoneal injections of carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4) ) for up to 12 weeks (rat and mouse) or oral administration of thioacetamide (TAA) for 1 year (mouse). Elastin synthesis, deposition, and degradation were investigated by immunohistochemistry, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), western blotting, and casein zymography. The regulation of MMP-12 elastin degradation was defined mechanistically using CD11b-DTR and MMP-12 knockout mice. In a CCl(4) model of fibrosis in rat, elastin deposition was significantly increased only in advanced fibrosis. Tropoelastin expression increased with duration of injury. MMP-12 protein levels were only modestly changed and in coimmunoprecipitation experiments MMP-12 was bound in greater quantities to its inhibitor TIMP-1 in advanced versus early fibrosis. Immunohistochemistry and macrophage depletion experiments indicated that macrophages were the sole source of MMP-12. Exposure of CCl(4) in MMP-12(-/-) mice led to a similar degree of overall fibrosis compared to wildtype (WT) but increased perisinusoidal elastin. Conversely, oral administration of TAA caused both higher elastin accumulation and higher fibrosis in MMP-12(-/-) mice compared with WT. Conclusion: Elastin is regulated at the level of degradation during liver fibrosis. Macrophage-derived MMP-12 regulates elastin degradation even in progressive experimental liver fibrosis. These observations have important implications for the design of antifibrotic therapies.
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