Immunological characteristics and possible pathogenic role of urinary CD11c+ macrophages in lupus nephritis.

Kidney-infiltrating immune cells can contribute to the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis (LN). We investigated the immunological characteristics of CD11c+ macrophages and their functions associated with the pathogenesis of LN.CD11c+ macrophages were examined in the urine samples of patients with LN. Phenotypic markers and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression levels were analysed by flow cytometry. To determine the origin of urinary macrophages, peripheral monocytes were treated with sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The pathogenic role of CD11c+ macrophages in tubulointerstitial damage was investigated using SLE sera-treated monocytes and HK-2 cells.Urinary CD11c+ macrophages expressed pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6 and IL-1, and resembled infiltrated monocytes rather than tissue-resident macrophages with respect to surface marker expression. CD11c+ macrophages had high expression levels of the chemokine receptor CXCR3, which were correlated with cognate chemokine IP-10 expression in urinary tubular epithelial cells. When treated with sera from SLE patients, peripheral monocytes acquired the morphological and functional characteristics of urinary CD11c+ macrophages, which was blocked by DNase treatment. Finally, SLE sera-treated monocytes induced fibronectin expression, apoptosis and cell detachment in HK-2 cells via production of IL-6.CD11c+ macrophages may be involved in the pathogenesis of tubulointerstitial injury in LN.

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