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Cell Tissue Res. 2001 Feb;303(2):235-52.

Cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2 expression in rat kidney and adrenal gland after stimulation with systemic lipopolysaccharide: in situ hybridization and immunocytochemical studies.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a recently discovered isoform of cyclooxygenase that is inducible by various types of inflammatory stimuli. Although this enzyme is considered to play a major role in inflammation processes by catalyzing the production of prostaglandins, the precise location, distribution, and regulation of prostaglandin synthesis remains unclear in several tissues. Using in situ hybridization histochemistry, we investigated the induction of COX-1 and COX-2 mRNA expression after systemic administration of a pyrogen, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), in kidney and adrenal gland in the rat. The COX-2 mRNA signals dramatically increased 1 h after LPS treatment in the kidney outer medulla and adrenal cortex, where almost no or little expression was observed in nontreated animals, and returned to control levels within 24 h. COX-2 mRNA levels increased in the kidney inner medulla 6 h after treatment. There was also a significant increase in mRNA levels in the kidney cortex and adrenal medulla. On the other hand, COX-1 mRNA levels did not show any detectable changes except in the kidney inner medulla, where a significant downregulation of mRNA expression was observed after LPS treatment. Light and electron immunocytochemistry using COX-2 antibodies showed that strong COX-2 immunoreactivity was localized to certain cortical cells of the thick ascending limb of Henle. In addition, based on double-staining with antiserum to nitric oxide synthase (NOS) four further cell populations could be identified in kidney cortex, including weakly COX-2-positive, NOS-positive macula densa cells. After LPS treatment, changes in COX-2 immunoreactivity could be observed in interstitial cells in the kidney medulla and in inner cortical cells in the adrenal gland. These results show that COX-2 is a highly induced enzyme that can be up-regulated in specific cell populations in kidney and adrenal gland in response to inflammation, leading to the elevated levels of prostaglandins seen during fever. In contrast COX-1 mRNA levels remained unchanged in this experimental situation, except for a decrease in kidney inner medulla.

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