Local macrophage proliferation in human glomerulonephritis

Niansheng Yang, Nicole M. Isbel, David J. Nikolic-Paterson, Youji Li, Rengao Ye, Robert C. Atkins, Hui Y. Lan

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146 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Local macrophage proliferation has been described in several animal models of glomerulonephritis (GN), but its significance in human disease is unknown. Methods. Double immunostaining for CD68 and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was used to identify macrophage proliferation in 84 biopsies from a variety of glomerulonephridities. Results. A small resident population of glomerular and interstitial CD68+ macrophages was identified in normal human kidney, of which only 1 to 2% showed evidence of proliferation on the basis of PCNA expression. A mild macrophage infiltrate, with only occasional proliferating macrophages, was seen in the less aggressive forms of GN (minimal change disease, non-IgA mesangioproliferative GN and IgA nephropathy). This was in sharp contrast to the more aggressive forms of disease (lupus class IV, vasculitis-associated GN, crescentic GN and mesangiocapillary proliferative GN), in which the prominent macrophage infiltrates contained many proliferating macrophages, accounting for 28 to 47% of the total macrophage population. Macrophage proliferation was largely restricted to areas of severe tissue damage (glomerular segmental proliferative lesions, crescents and loci of tubulointerstitial damage), suggesting that local proliferation is a mechanism for amplifying macrophage-mediated injury. Glomerular and interstitial macrophage proliferation gave a significant correlation with loss of renal function (P < 0.0001) and histologic lesions (P < 0.0001), but not with proteinuria. Interstitial T-cell proliferation also gave a significant correlation with loss of renal function and histologic damage, even though proliferation within the T-cell population was much lower than in the macrophage population. Conclusions. This study demonstrates that macrophage proliferation is a feature of the more aggressive forms of human GN. Local proliferation may be an important mechanism for amplifying macrophage-mediated renal injury. In addition, the degree of local macrophage proliferation may be a useful diagnostic and prognostic indicator for human GN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalKidney International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Crescents
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Granulomatosus lesions
  • Ki- 67
  • Macrophage
  • PCNA
  • Proliferation
  • Renal injury
  • T cell

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