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Nephrology (Carlton). 2011 Jul;16(5):495-501. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1797.2011.01442.x.

Renal tubular dysgenesis and tubulointerstitial nephritis antigen in juvenile nephronophthisis.

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Department of Paediatrics, Kinki University School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.



The relationship between abnormalities of tubular architecture and tubulointerstitial nephritis antigen (TIN-ag) in juvenile nephronophthisis (J-NPH) was evaluated.


Sixteen J-NPH patients were examined. Nephrocystin-1, TIN-ag, type IV collagen, Fas antigen and the C5b-9 complement complex were stained by immunohistochemical methods.


Renal tubules of patients with J-NPH showed morphological abnormalities of tubular basement membranes (TBM) and frequent apoptosis of tubular epithelial cells. Additionally, the C5b-9 complement complex was deposited within the TBM in the absence of immunoglobulin deposition, suggesting complement-dependent TBM injury. Localization of TIN-ag in the TBM of J-NPH patients disclosed a partial defect or discontinuity in 14 of the 16 patients, while type IV collagen immunoreactivity was relatively preserved. These findings suggest that tubulogenesis is disturbed during nephronogenesis in J-NPH patients because of a defect in nephrocystin, an NPHP gene product. TBM defects induce further morphological abnormalities such as cystic dilation of tubules; as tubular function impairment advances, the incomplete tubules may be injured by C5b-9 complement complexes, followed by apoptotic cell death.


TIN-ag, which is important in early nephrogenesis, lacks normal activity, and vulnerable and incomplete tubules with deficient TIN-ag expression are formed. Removal of these defective tubules by apoptosis combined with the C5b-9 complement complex could be the primary reason for progression to end-stage renal disease in J-NPH patients.

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