Tubules are the major site of M-CSF production in experimental kidney disease: Correlation with local macrophage proliferation

Nicole M. Isbel, Prudence A. Hill, Rita Foti, Wei Mu, Lyn A. Hurst, Cosimo Stambe, Hui Y. Lan, Robert C. Atkins, David J. Nikolic-Paterson

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Local proliferation of macrophages occurs within both the glomerulus and the interstitium in severe forms of human and experimental glomerulonephritis and plays an important role in amplifying renal injury. Macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) is thought to be the growth factor driving this local macrophage proliferation. Previous studies have found that glomeruli are the predominant source of M-CSF production. However, this is difficult to reconcile with the prominent macrophage accumulation and proliferation seen in the interstitial compartment in glomerulonephritis. To address this issue, we localized M-CSF expression in rat models of glomerular versus tubulointerstitial injury and examined its relationship to local macrophage proliferation. Methods. M-CSF expression (Northern blotting, in situ hybridization, immunostaining, Western blotting) and local macrophage proliferation (double immunostaining) was examined in normal rat kidney on days 1 and 14 of rat anti-glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) glomerulonephritis and on day 5 following unilateral ureteric obstruction. Results. M-CSF mRNA and protein expression were identified in small numbers of glomerular podocytes, approximately 25% of cortical tubules, and most medullary tubules in normal rat kidney. Northern blotting showed a significant increase in whole kidney M-CSF mRNA in rat anti-GBM glomerulonephritis. Up-regulation of glomerular and, most prominently, tubular M-CSF production was confirmed by three independent methods: in situ hybridization, immunostaining, and Western blotting. The increase in M-CSF expression colocalized with local macrophage proliferation (ED1+PCNA+cells) in both the glomerulus and tubulointerstitium. On day 5 after ureter ligation, there was a significant increase in tubular M-CSF mRNA and protein expression in the obstructed kidney, with no change in glomerular M-CSF. In parallel with M-CSF expression, macrophage accumulation and proliferation was prominent in the interstitium, but was absent from glomeruli. Conclusions. The tubular epithelial cell is the major site of M-CSF production within the injured kidney. Indeed, substantial macrophage accumulation and local proliferation can occur in the tubulointerstitium in the absence of glomerular inflammation. These results suggest that M-CSF production within the kidney, particularly by tubular epithelial cells, plays an important role in regulating local macrophage proliferation in experimental kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-625
Number of pages12
JournalKidney International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • Epithelium
  • Glomerular basement membrane
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Macrophage colony-stimulating factor
  • Ureteral obstruction

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