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Clin Exp Immunol. Nov 1994; 98(2): 279–286.
PMCID: PMC1534396

Podocyte expression of MHC class I and II and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in experimental pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis.


We examined immunopathological changes of podocytes in vivo which, based on in vitro studies, are thought to be relevant for the pathogenesis of renal diseases. We investigated the alterations of podocytes in local inflammation in a recently developed model of pauci-immune necrotizing crescentic glomerulonephritis (NCGN) in the rat. Frozen and plastic embedded kidney sections at different time points of the disease were incubated with antibodies directed to MHC class I, MHC class II, ICAM-1 and to relevant cytokines. Strong glomerular expression of MHC class I, II and ICAM-1 was found within 4 days, and plastic embedded sections clearly demonstrated increased cell membrane staining of podocytes. Increased glomerular interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) was detected within 24 h of induction of NCGN, and IL-1 beta and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were found from day 4. The potency of these cytokines to induce adhesion molecules on podocytes was investigated on rat glomerular epithelial cells in vitro. By using FACS analysis and electron microscopical techniques, we found that the in vivo expression of MHC class I, II and ICAM-1 by podocytes could in vitro be simulated by IFN-gamma. IFN-alpha weakly induced MHC class I, while IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha were ineffective. We hypothesize that podocytes in this in vivo model are important to maintain the local inflammatory process in the glomerulus by expression of relevant adhesion molecules and MHC molecules upon stimulation with specific cytokines.

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