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      Complement-Mediated Killing of Mesangial Cells in Experimental Glomerulonephritis: Cell Death by a Combination of Apoptosis and Necrosis

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          Immune system mediated, particularly antibody- and complement-mediated, glomerular injury triggers glomerulonephritis (GN). To characterize complement-mediated cytotoxicity in GN, we assessed the process of mesangial cell death induced by C5b-9 attack in Thy-1 GN. Cell injury was recognized morphologically, and nuclear DNA breaks were confirmed by the DNA nick end labeling (TUNEL) method as well as DNA gel electrophoresis. Thy-1 GN was induced in rats with anti-Thy-1.1 antibody injection. Mouse IgG (administered antibody) and rat C3 were detected in all glomeruli within 5 min after antibody injection. Damaged mesangial cells with condensed as well as TUNEL-positive nuclei could be observed at 20 min and became prominent at 40–60 min. Ultrastructurally, damaged mesangial cells contained condensed apoptotic nuclei from 40 to 60 min, whereas the cytoplasm showed necrotic degeneration. This was followed by progressive lysis of both nuclei and cytoplasm. The DNA ‘ladder’ pattern was observed by gel electrophoresis of extracted DNA between 40 and 60 min and correlated with the increased number of TUNEL-positive damaged mesangial cells. To examine the role of complement in this form of cell death, complement depletion was induced in rats by cobra venom factor. Complement-depleted rats showed no rat C3 deposition, rare TUNEL-positive mesangial cells, rare ultrastructural degenerated mesangial cells with apoptotic nuclei and necrotic cytoplasm, and no DNA ‘ladder’ pattern on gel electrophoresis at 40 min, although prominent mouse IgG was seen in glomeruli. To analyze milder forms of complement injury, a low dose of the antibody was administered to rats with a normal complement level. A few TUNEL-positive mesangial cells were detected in the glomeruli which contained apoptotic nuclei and necrotic cytoplasm. Our results indicate that an apoptotic death mechanism accompanies cell necrosis in complement-mediated mesangial cell destruction in GN and that this unusual form of cell death may represent a combination of apoptosis-necrosis within the same cell. Complement injury activates a ‘death program’ which in turn leads to irreversible damage of mesangial cells and which may contribute to initiation and development of GN.

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          Identification of programmed cell death in situ via specific labeling of nuclear DNA fragmentation

          Programmed cell death (PCD) plays a key role in developmental biology and in maintenance of the steady state in continuously renewing tissues. Currently, its existence is inferred mainly from gel electrophoresis of a pooled DNA extract as PCD was shown to be associated with DNA fragmentation. Based on this observation, we describe here the development of a method for the in situ visualization of PCD at the single-cell level, while preserving tissue architecture. Conventional histological sections, pretreated with protease, were nick end labeled with biotinylated poly dU, introduced by terminal deoxy- transferase, and then stained using avidin-conjugated peroxidase. The reaction is specific, only nuclei located at positions where PCD is expected are stained. The initial screening includes: small and large intestine, epidermis, lymphoid tissues, ovary, and other organs. A detailed analysis revealed that the process is initiated at the nuclear periphery, it is relatively short (1-3 h from initiation to cell elimination) and that PCD appears in tissues in clusters. The extent of tissue-PCD revealed by this method is considerably greater than apoptosis detected by nuclear morphology, and thus opens the way for a variety of studies.
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            The molecular biology of apoptosis.

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              Apoptosis: the biochemistry and molecular biology of programmed cell death


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                October 2000
                22 September 2000
                : 86
                : 2
                : 152-160
                Department of Pathology, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan
                45734 Nephron 2000;86:152–160
                © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 9, Tables: 1, References: 40, Pages: 9
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