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Proc Assoc Am Physicians. 1998 May-Jun;110(3):207-17.

Augmented expression of glomerular basement membrane specific type IV collagen isoforms (alpha3-alpha5) in experimental membranous nephropathy.

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Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, Boston University Medical Center, MA 02118, USA.


In human and experimental membranous nephropathy, new extracellular matrix accumulates between, and eventually surrounds, immune deposits on the subepithelial aspect of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). To define the nature and source of this newly deposited matrix, we studied by in situ hybridization and immunohistology the production and tissue deposition of the recently defined basement membrane type IV collagen chain isoforms alpha3, alpha4, and alpha5, the mesangium-specific alpha1 and alpha2 isoforms of type IV collagen, and the fibrillar interstitial type I collagen during the development of immunological injury in passive Heymann nephritis (PHN), a rodent model of membranous nephropathy. Our results show that steady-state mRNA levels of alpha3-alpha5 (IV) but not alpha1 (IV) are significantly increased in the glomeruli of rats with PHN at the peak of immunological injury after 14 days. Increased signal for alpha4 (IV) and the new appearance of alpha1 (I) could be clearly localized to glomerular podocytes, the target of injury in this model. In addition, increased levels of immunoreactive alpha3-alpha5 were visible in the peripheral and paramesangial GBM together with de novo deposits of type I collagen. A modest increase in mesangial staining for alpha1/alpha2 (IV) was present in PHN glomeruli. In rats depleted of complement for 5 days after PHN induction, the peak of alpha4 (IV) mRNA expression on day 14 was blunted. In conclusion, we have shown increased production of the intrinsic GBM type IV collagen isoforms alpha3-alpha5 and ectopic production of type I collagen by injured podocytes in PHN. These changes may contribute to the formation of an expanded and disorganized GBM, as seen in experimental and human membranous nephropathy.

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