17 November 2004
Background/Aims: Integrins are adhesion molecules of fundamental importance to the recruitment of leucocytes in inflammation. The α4β1 integrin (VLA-4) is a leucocyte ligand for endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), fibronectin and osteopontin. We addressed the role of VLA-4 in mediating progressive renal injury in vivo using a blocking monoclonal antibody (mAb) in a rat model of crescentic glomerulonephritis. Methods: WKY rats with nephrotoxic nephritis were given anti-VLA-4 or control mAb at 2.5 mg/kg by i.p. injection on alternate days. In separate experiments, antibodies were given from days 5–13, from days 13–21 or from days 14–28. Results: Early treatment with anti-VLA-4 mAb from days 5–13 showed a significant effect on renal function, with a reduction in albuminuria (p < 0.01) and a higher creatinine clearance (p < 0.05). Delayed treatment from days 13–21 also showed a reduction in albuminuria (p < 0.05) and serum creatinine (p < 0.05). However, there was no significant effect on glomerular or interstitial scarring in these two experiments. In the late treatment study, in which anti-VLA-4 mAb was administered from days 14–28, serum creatinine was reduced (p < 0.05), creatinine clearance was improved (p < 0.05), and renal survival was significantly prolonged (p < 0.05). Interstitial scarring was significantly less in treated rats (p < 0.05). Glomerular macrophage and CD8+ cell counts were higher in anti-VLA-4 mAb treated rats (p < 0.05), possibly reflecting greater glomerular scarring in control animals. Conclusion: Leucocyte VLA-4 mediates pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic effects within the kidney, independent of any role in recruitment of leucocytes into the kidney. Blocking VLA-4 is a promising therapeutic approach in human glomerulonephritis.