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Mol Med. 1997 Feb;3(2):136-44.

TNF-alpha up-regulates renal MIF expression in rat crescentic glomerulonephritis.

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Department of Nephrology, Monash Medical Centre, Victoria, Australia.



Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a potent proinflammatory mediator that participates in the pathogenesis of endotoxemia and experimental crescentic glomerulonephritis. However, very little is known about how MIF production is regulated in disease. We therefore examined whether tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a known inducer of MIF expression by macrophages in vitro, up-regulates local and systemic MIF expression in a macrophage-mediated rat model of crescentic glomerulonephritis.


Anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) glomerulonephritis was induced in groups of six primed rats. Animals were treated with 1 mg/kg soluble TNF-alpha receptor (TNFbp) or saline from the time of disease induction until they were killed on Days 1, 7, or 14. Renal MIF expression was assessed by in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and ELISA, and compared with macrophage accumulation and indices of renal damage.


Although TNFbp treatment on Day 1 of the disease had only a partial effect upon the up-regulation of glomerular MIF expression, on Days 7 to 14 it almost completely abrogated the increase in glomerular and interstitial MIF mRNA and protein expression. In addition, TNFbp treatment significantly inhibited MIF secretion by cultured glomeruli and reduced serum MIF levels. The inhibition of renal MIF expression was paralleled by a significant inhibition of glomerular and interstitial macrophage infiltration (p < 0.001 versus saline treated), a significant suppression of renal injury (proteinuria and serum creatinine), and a marked reduction in histologic damage (glomerular hypercellularity, crescent formation, and interstitial fibrosis; all p < 0.01 versus saline treated).


This study demonstrates for the first time that TNF-alpha up-regulates local MIF expression by both infiltrating macrophages and resident kidney cells in rat crescentic glomerulonephritis. In addition, TNF-alpha regulates systemic MIF production. Thus, TNF-alpha, together with MIF, may play a pathological role in immunologically induced renal disease.

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