De Novo CD44 Expression by Proliferating Mesangial Cells in Rat Anti-Thy-1 Nephritis

David J. Nikolic-Paterson, Zhao Jun, Gregory H. Tesch, Hui Y. Lan, Rita Foti, Robert C. Atkins

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CD44 is the major cell-surface receptor for hyaluronan, and cell-matrix interactions mediated by the CD44/hyaluronan receptor-ligand pair are involved in a variety of cellular functions, including cell migration. The aim of the study presented here was to examine the expression of CD44 and hyaluronan in the mesangial proliferative response in rat anti-Thy-1 nephritis. In normal rat kidney, CD44 is expressed by medullary tubules, some distal tubules and thick ascending limbs of Henle, dendritic-like cells around Bowman's capsule, and some interstitial cells. However, only occasional CD44+ cells were found within the glomerular tuft. In experimental nephritis, there was an early glomerular influx of CD44+ macrophages, which peaked on Day 4 after anti-Thy-1 antibody injection. A striking finding was de novo CD44 expression by mesangial cells. This CD44 expression was restricted to the transient period of mesangial cell proliferation as shown by double-staining with an antibody against the proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Immunohistochemistry staining also demonstrated hyaluronan deposition within segmental areas of proliferating CD44+ cells, suggesting a functional interaction between the CD44/hyaluronan receptor-ligand pair during mesangial cell proliferation. In vitro, rat mesangial cells were shown to express mRNA and protein for the 90-kd isoform of CD44. In addition, hyaluronan-dependent aggregation of CD44+ mesangial cells was specifically inhibited by an anti-CD44 antibody, demonstrating a functional interaction between hyaluronan and the CD44 expressed on the surface of rat mesangial cells. In conclusion, these data suggest that cell-matrix interactions mediated by the CD44/hyaluronan receptor-ligand pair are involved in mesangial cell proliferation in rat anti-Thy-1 nephritis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1006-1014
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1996


  • Hyaluronan
  • OX-50
  • Proliferation

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