Journal Article

Expression of nephrin in acquired human glomerular disease

Wooseong Huh, Dae Joong Kim, Mi‐Kyung Kim, Yoon Goo Kim, Ha‐Young Oh, Vesa Ruotsalainen and Karl Tryggvason

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 478-484
Published in print March 2002 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online March 2002 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Expression of nephrin in acquired human glomerular disease

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Background. Nephrin is a recently identified protein, which is synthesized in the podocytes and localized in the slit diaphragm area. Nephrin is a cell adhesion molecule of the immunoglobulin superfamily, and presumably is a part of the zipper‐like structure of the slit membrane. As the mutation of the gene coding nephrin induces congenital nephrotic syndrome of Finnish type, which is a prototype of nephrotic syndrome, it has been suggested that nephrin also plays a role in acquired proteinuric kidney disease.

Methods. To address the above issue, the expression of nephrin in acquired human glomerular disease was studied by immunoelectron microscopy employing a polyclonal antibody against nephrin. Four normal human kidneys from nephrectomy specimens and eight kidney biopsy specimens from glomerular disease patients (one minimal change disease, one membranous glomerulonephritis (GN), one membranoproliferative GN, four IgA nephropathy, and one lupus nephritis) were studied. Proteinuria of the patients ranged from 448 to 11725 mg/day. Effacement of the foot processes was observed in all patients.

Results. The study demonstrated that the number and distribution of gold particles in the glomerular region, where the podocyte foot process was well preserved, were similar to that found in normal kidneys; however, gold particles were almost always absent in regions where the foot processes were effaced. The number of gold particles per foot process interspace was not different between normal controls and GN patients; however, the number of gold particles per defined length (1000 nm) of the glomerular basement membrane underlying the foot processes was significantly reduced in GN patients.

Conclusion. Using immunoelectron microscopy, we observed that the expression of nephrin in GN was lower in regions where the foot processes were effaced, and comparable with that of normal controls where the foot process interspaces were preserved. The significance of our observation in the context of proteinuria in acquired GN needs further clarification.

Keywords: nephrin; glomerulonephritis; podocyte; proteinuria; effacement

Journal Article.  3187 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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