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Kidney Int. 2000 Feb;57(2):499-509.

Expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in human glomerulonephritis.

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Department of Nephrology, Monash Medical Center, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.



We have recently demonstrated that macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) plays a pathogenic role in experimental glomerulonephritis (GN). The aim of the current study was to investigate MIF expression in human GN.


MIF expression was examined by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry staining in 65 biopsies from a variety of glomerulonephridities.


There is constitutive expression of MIF mRNA and protein in normal human kidney that is largely restricted to tubular epithelial cells and to some glomerular epithelial cells. There was little change in the pattern of MIF expression in nonproliferative forms of GN such as minimal change disease and membranous GN. However, there was a marked increase in both glomerular and tubular MIF expression in proliferative forms of GN, including focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FGS), lupus nephritis, crescentic GN, and mesangiocapillary proliferative GN. The prominent macrophage and T-cell infiltrate in these diseases were largely restricted to areas with marked up-regulation of MIF expression, contributing to glomerular hypercellularity, glomerular focal segmental lesions, crescent formation, tubulitis, and granulomatous lesions. De novo MIF expression was evident in glomerular endothelial cells and mesangial cells in proliferative forms of GN. In addition, many infiltrating macrophages and T cells showed MIF mRNA and protein expression. Quantitative analysis found that increased glomerular and tubular MIF expression gave a highly significant correlation with macrophage and T-cell accumulation, the severity of histologic lesions, and the loss of creatinine clearance.


Renal MIF expression is markedly up-regulated in proliferative forms of human GN, and this correlates with leukocyte infiltration, histologic damage, and renal function impairment. These results suggest that MIF may be an important mediator of renal injury in progressive forms of human GN. Based on these findings, together with the known pathogenic role of MIF in experimental GN, we propose that MIF is an attractive therapeutic target in the treatment of progressive forms of GN.

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