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Am J Pathol. 2010 Sep;177(3):1143-54. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090608. Epub 2010 Aug 9.

Statin attenuates experimental anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis together with the augmentation of alternatively activated macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Analytic Human Pathology, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan.


Macrophages are heterogeneous and include classically activated M1 and alternatively activated M2 macrophages, characterized by pro- and anti-inflammatory functions, respectively. Macrophages that express heme oxygenase-1 also exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. We assessed the anti-inflammatory effects of statin in experimental anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis and in vitro, focusing on the macrophage heterogeneity. Rats were induced anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis and treated with atorvastatin (20 mg/kg/day) or vehicle (control). Control rats showed infiltration of macrophages in the glomeruli at day 3 and developed crescentic glomerulonephritis by day 7, together with increased mRNA levels of the M1 macrophage-associated cytokines, interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-12. In contrast, statin reduced the level of proteinuria, reduced infiltration of macrophages in glomeruli with suppression of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 expression, and inhibited the formation of necrotizing and crescentic lesions. The number of glomerular ED3-positive macrophages decreased with down-regulation of M1 macrophage-associated cytokines. Furthermore, statin augmented ED2-positive M2 macrophages with up-regulation of the M2 macrophage-associated chemokines and cytokines, chemokine (C-C motif) Iigand-17 and interleukin-10. Statin also increased the glomerular interleukin-10-expressing heme oxygenase-1-positive macrophages. Statin inhibited macrophage development, and suppressed ED3-positive macrophages, but augmented ED2-positive macrophages in M2-associated cytokine environment in vitro. We conclude that the anti-inflammatory effects of statin in glomerulonephritis are mediated through inhibition of macrophage infiltration as well as augmentation of anti-inflammatory macrophages.

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