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J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15;168(12):6244-52.

Expression of functional CCR and CXCR chemokine receptors in podocytes.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Chemokines and their receptors play an important role in the pathogenesis of acute and chronic glomerular inflammation. However, their expression pattern and function in glomerular podocytes, the primary target cells in a variety of glomerulopathies, have not been investigated as of yet. Using RT-PCR, we now demonstrate the expression of CCR4, CCR8, CCR9, CCR10, CXCR1, CXCR3, CXCR4, and CXCR5 in cultured human podocytes. Stimulation of these receptors induced a concentration-dependent biphasic increase of the free cytosolic calcium concentration in podocytes in culture. In addition, we demonstrate that podocytes release IL-8 in the presence of FCS and that IL-8 down-regulates cell surface CXCR1. Chemokine stimulation of the detected CCRs and CXCRs increased activity of NADPH-oxidase, the primary source of superoxide anions in podocytes. Immunohistochemistry studies revealed only diffuse and weak CXCR expression in healthy human glomerula. In contrast, in membranous nephropathy, a characteristic podocyte disorder, the expression of CXCR1, CXCR3, and CXCR5 is up-regulated in podocytes. In conclusion, podocytes in culture and podocytes in human kidney sections express a set of chemokine receptors. The release of oxygen radicals that accompanies the activation of CCRs and CXCRs may contribute to podocyte injury and the development of proteinuria during membranous nephropathy.

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