Background. Sialoadhesin (Sn; CD169) is a lectin-like receptor whose expression is restricted to subsets of tissue and inflammatory macrophages. We have previously identified accumulation of Sn+ macrophages as an important marker of disease progression versus remission in rat mesangial proliferative nephritis. The current study examined the significance of Sn+ macrophages in human proliferative glomerulonephritis. Methods. Frozen kidney sections from normal adult human kidney (n = 4) and pediatric nephropathy (n = 40) were stained for total macrophages (CD68+ cells), Sn+ macrophages, CD3+ T-cells and collagen type I by immunofluorescence. Leukocyte infiltration and the severity of glomerular lesions and interstitial damage were scored. A second protocol biopsy was performed in 27 cases and clinical and biopsy-based data obtained. Results. Sn+ macrophages were absent from glomeruli in normal adult human kidney and in thin basement membrane disease (n = 4), but were detected in 4 of 9 cases of purpura nephritis; 7 of 17 IgA nephropathy; 5 of 5 membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, and 5 of 5 lupus nephritis. Sn+ macrophages were localized in areas of focal glomerular and interstitial damage. Two-colour immunostaining confirmed that Sn+ cells are a subset of total CD68+ macrophages. The number of glomerular Sn+ macrophages correlated with the degree of proteinuria and glomerular lesions (r = 0.44, P = 0.0045 and r = 0.82, P < 0.0001; respectively), while interstitial Sn+ macrophages correlated with the degree of proteinuria and interstitial damage (r = 0.59, P < 0.0001 and r = 0.75, P < 0.0001; respectively). Combined immunostaining revealed that interstitial Sn+ macrophages and CD3+ T-cells co-localized in areas of tubulointerstitial damage with increased type I collagen deposition. There was significant correlation between the number of interstitial Sn+ macrophages and CD3+ T-cells (r = 0.74, P < 0.0001). Most patients responded to a 2 year period of glucocorticoid therapy with a reduction in proteinuria and glomerular lesions and this correlated with the reduction in the number of glomerular Sn+ macrophages. Conclusion. This study has identified Sn+ cells as a macrophage subset whose accumulation in the kidney correlates with proteinuria and histologic damage. These results, together with recent findings from animal studies, suggest that Sn+ macrophages may play an important role in progressive renal disease.
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