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Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Jan;59(1):117-21. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.08.014. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Endoplasmic reticulum stress in UMOD-related kidney disease: a human pathologic study.

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Service d'Anatomopathologie, Paris, France.


Mutations of the UMOD gene, which encodes the uromodulin protein, are associated with tubulointerstitial nephritis and hyperuricemia. UMOD mutations impair uromodulin folding, resulting in its retention within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of renal tubular cells. The aim of this study was to investigate whether mutant uromodulin accumulation in epithelial tubular cells is associated with ER stress. We characterized tubular expression of uromodulin and the ER stress surrogate marker Grp78 by immunohistochemistry in kidney biopsy specimens from 7 patients with UMOD-related kidney disease. We compared this population with 5 patients with familial tubulointerstitial nephritis not related to UMOD mutation. All biopsy specimens from patients carrying the UMOD mutation showed strong heterogeneous cytoplasmic expression of uromodulin in cells of the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle. In the same tubules, Grp78 was highly expressed in a perinuclear pattern. In contrast, in all kidney biopsy specimens from patients without UMOD mutations, uromodulin staining showed normal apical expression and Grp78 expression was not increased. Our observations support the hypothesis that ER accumulation of mutant uromodulin may cause ER stress, providing a potential mechanism for the progression of UMOD-related kidney disease.

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