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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Jul;17(7):1986-94. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

Chronic renal failure and shortened lifespan in COL4A3+/- mice: an animal model for thin basement membrane nephropathy.

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Medical Faculty University of Cologne, Medicine Clinic I, Hospital Merheim, Ostmerheimer Strasse 200, D-51109 Cologne, Germany.


A heterozygous mutation in autosomal Alport genes COL4A3 and COL4A4 can be found in 20 to 50% of individuals with familial benign hematuria and diffuse glomerular basement membrane thinning (thin basement membrane nephropathy [TBMN]). Approximately 1% of humans are heterozygous carriers of mutations in the autosomal Alport genes and at risk for developing renal failure as a result of TBMN. The incidence and pathogenesis of renal failure in heterozygous COL4A3/4 mutation carriers is still unclear and was examined further in this study using COL4A3 knockout mice. In heterozygous COL4A3(+/-) mice lifespan, hematuria and renal function (serum urea and proteinuria) were monitored during a period of 3 yr, and renal tissue was examined by light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot. Lifespan of COL4A3(+/-) mice was found to be significantly shorter than in healthy controls (21.7 versus 30.3 mo). Persistent glomerular hematuria was detected starting in week 9; proteinuria of > 0.1 g/L started after 3 mo of life and increased to > 3 g/L after 24 mo. The glomerular basement membrane was significantly thinned (167 versus 200 nm in wild type) in 30-wk-old mice, coinciding with focal glomerulosclerosis, tubulointerstitial fibrosis, and increased levels of TGF-beta and connective tissue growth factor. The renal phenotype in COL4A3(+/-) mice resembled the clinical and histopathologic phenotype of human cases of TBMN with concomitant progression to chronic renal failure. Therefore, the COL4A3(+/-) mouse model will help in the understanding of the pathogenesis of TBMN in humans and in the evaluation of potential therapies.

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