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      Targeted Downregulation of Extracellular Nephrin in Human IgA Nephropathy

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          Background: The identification of nephrin and CD2AP, podocyte proteins which modulate the properties of glomerular barrier selectivity, has made it possible to unravel the mechanisms undergoing foot process effacement and proteinuria. Here we explored the role of nephrin and CD2AP together with the integrity of the slit diaphragm in the pathogenesis of proteinuria in patients with acquired glomerular diseases. Methods: Nephrin mRNA and protein expression were systematically evaluated in 28 renal biopsy samples from adult patients with primary glomerular disease and proteinuria by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry using antibodies directed against extra- and intracellular nephrin and compared with biopsy samples from normal controls. CD2AP protein expression by immunohistochemistry was also assessed. Morphometrical analysis of the filtration slit was performed by transmission electron microscopy. Results: Nephrin mRNA and expression of the extracellular nephrin were markedly reduced in IgA nephropathy. No changes were found in patients with minimal change nephrosis and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The staining of intracellular nephrin and CD2AP did not change among patients. A comparable frequency of the filtration slits was observed in all patient groups, except in minimal change disease patients, due to extensive foot process effacement. The percentage of slit diaphragms with a filamentous image was markedly reduced in IgA nephropathy, but was comparable to controls in minimal change disease. Slit pore width showed a tendency to decrease both in patients with minimal change disease and IgA nephropathy. Conclusions: These results indicate that the ultrastructure of the filtration slit diaphragm is altered in patients with IgA nephropathy as a consequence of targeted downregulation of extracellular nephrin. Further studies are needed to evaluate the pathophysiological meaning of nephrin abnormality in IgA nephropathy and how these changes can be modulated by antiproteinuric therapy.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Progression, remission, regression of chronic renal diseases.

          The prevalence of chronic renal disease is increasing worldwide. Most chronic nephropathies lack a specific treatment and progress relentlessly to end-stage renal disease. However, research in animals and people has helped our understanding of the mechanisms of this progression and has indicated possible preventive methods. The notion of renoprotection is developing into a combined approach to renal diseases, the main measures being pharmacological control of blood pressure and reduction of proteinuria. Lowering of blood lipids, smoking cessation, and tight glucose control for diabetes also form part of the multimodal protocol for management of renal patients. With available treatments, dialysis can be postponed for many patients with chronic nephropathies, but the real goal has to be less dialysis-in other words remission of disease and regression of structural damage to the kidney. Experimental and clinical data lend support to the notion that less dialysis (and maybe none for some patients) is at least possible.
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            Congenital nephrotic syndrome (NPHS1): features resulting from different mutations in Finnish patients.

            Congenital nephrotic syndrome (NPHS1) is a rare disease inherited as an autosomally recessive trait. The NPHS1 gene mutated in NPHS1 children has recently been identified. The gene codes for nephrin, a cell-surface protein of podocytes. Two mutations, named Fin-major and Fin-minor, have been found in over 90% of the Finnish patients. In this study, we correlated the NPHS1 gene mutations to the clinical features and renal findings in 46 Finnish NPHS1 children. Clinical data were collected from patient files, and kidney histology and electron microscopy samples were re-evaluated. The expression of nephrin was studied using immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and in situ hybridization. Nephrotic syndrome was detected in most patients within days after birth regardless of the genotype detected. No difference could be found in neonatal, renal, cardiac, or neurological features in patients with different mutations. Nephrin was not expressed in kidneys with Fin-major or Fin-minor mutations, while another slit diaphragm-associated protein, ZO-1, stained normally. In electron microscopy, podocyte fusion and podocyte filtration slits of various sizes were detected. The slit diaphragms, however, were missing. In contrast to this, a nephrotic infant with Fin-major/R743C genotype expressed nephrin in kidney had normal slit diaphragms and responded to therapy with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and indomethacin. The most common NPHS1 gene mutations, Fin-major and Fin-minor, both lead to an absence of nephrin and podocyte slit diaphragms, as well as a clinically severe form of NPHS1, the Finnish type of congenital nephrotic syndrome.
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              Irbesartan normalises the deficiency in glomerular nephrin expression in a model of diabetes and hypertension.

              The location of nephrin has been identified as the slit-diaphragm of the glomerular podocyte. Recent evidence suggests that nephrin could play a key role in the function of the glomerular filtration barrier and the development of proteinuria but its status in long-term diabetes is still not understood. We studied the expression of nephrin in a hypertensive model of diabetic nephropathy and investigated the potential influence of angiotensin II blockade on nephrin gene and protein expression. Streptozotocin-diabetic spontaneously hypertensive rats were given either no treatment or the angiotensin II antagonist, irbesartan, at a dose of 15 mg/kg per day by gavage for 32 weeks. Non-diabetic spontaneously hypertensive rats were used as a control group. Real time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to assess and quantify gene and protein expression of nephrin. Diabetic spontaneously hypertensive rats developed albuminuria and had a reduction in both gene and protein expression of nephrin when compared with control rats. Irbesartan treatment prevented the development of albuminuria and completely abrogated the down regulation of nephrin in diabetic rats. Long-term diabetes in spontaneously hypertensive rats is associated with a reduction in both gene and protein expression of nephrin within the kidney. These changes in nephrin levels were completely prevented by angiotensin II antagonist treatment, suggesting a potential novel mechanism to explain the antiproteinuric effect of agents which interrupt the renin-angiotensin system.

                Author and article information

                Am J Nephrol
                American Journal of Nephrology
                S. Karger AG
                August 2003
                31 July 2003
                : 23
                : 4
                : 277-286
                aMario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Negri Bergamo Laboratories, Bergamo, Italy; bBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA; cDivision of Nephrology and Dialysis, Azienda Ospedaliera, Ospedali Riuniti, Bergamo, Italy
                72281 Am J Nephrol 2003;23:277–286
                © 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, References: 29, Pages: 10
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                Original Article: Patient-Oriented, Translational Research


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