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C3a mediates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in proteinuric nephropathy

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ellen Hatch, Professor Neil SheerinORCiD


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Tubulointerstitial inflammation and progressive fibrosis are common pathways that lead to kidney failure in proteinuric nephropathies. Activation of the complement system has been implicated in the development of tubulointerstitial injury in clinical and animal studies, but the mechanism by which complement induces kidney injury is not fully understood. Here, we studied the effect of complement on the phenotype of tubular epithelial cells. Tubular epithelial cells exposed to serum proteins adopted phenotypic and functional characteristics of mesenchymal cells. Expression of E-cadherin protein decreased and expression of both alpha-smooth muscle actin protein and collagen I mRNA increased. Exposure of the cells to the complement anaphylotoxin C3a induced similar features. Treating with a C3a receptor (C3aR) antagonist prevented both C3a- and serum-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. In the adriamycin-induced proteinuria model, C3aR-deficient mice demonstrated less injury, preserved renal function, and improved survival compared with wild-type mice. Furthermore, the kidneys of C3aR-deficient mice had significantly less interstitial collagen I and alpha-smooth muscle actin. In summary, the complement anaphylotoxin C3a is an important mediator of glomerular and tubulointerstitial injury and can induce tubular epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tang Z, Lu B, Hatch E, Sacks SH, Sheerin NS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Year: 2009

Volume: 20

Issue: 3

Pages: 593-603

ISSN (print): 1046-6673

ISSN (electronic): 1533-3450

Publisher: American Society of Nephrology


DOI: 10.1681/ASN.2008040434

Notes: Journal Article Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't United States Jasn


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