Rabbits passively immunized with goat antibodies to rabbit angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum and mainly expressed on the apical membranes of the cells of proximal tubules, developed mild and transient immune deposits in this segment of the nephron. Granular deposits of goat IgG, rabbit ACE and C3 were found in the basolateral compartment and were maximal during the first week of immunization when the highest titers of anti-ACE antibodies were present. As the antibody titer fell to an undetectable level, the immune deposits were rapidly cleared and were virtually absent 21 days after the injections. Artificial increase of glomerular permeability allowed focal binding of ACE antibodies to the brush border of some tubules, but did not significantly alter the pattern of immune injury at the base of tubular cells. The data are consistent with the interpretation that the immune deposits result from in situ formation of immune complexes. This mechanism would involve passage of circulating antibodies across the tubular basement membrane and their combination with ACE associated with tubular cell surface membranes.
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