Background: Sustained proteinuria is reported to be very harmful to the tubulointerstitium, leading to severe interstitial injury. However, it remains unclear whether sustained proteinuria itself is responsible for severe interstitial injury because, in the previously reported models, the development of factors other than proteinuria in tubulointerstitial lesions could not be excluded completely.
Methods: After treatment to induce immune tolerance to mouse immunoglobulin, 20 rats were injected with anti-rat slit diaphragm monoclonal antibody (mAb) 5-1-6 twice a week for 6 months and were then sacrificed.
Results: mAb 5-1-6 induced massive proteinuria in 11 rats. In nine rats with mild proteinuria, no histological alteration could be detected with light microscopy and immunofluorescence. In nephrotic rats, light microscopy showed minor glomerular abnormalities, with interstitial oedema, tubular epithelial cell degeneration and interstitial cell infiltration. Immunofluorescence revealed increased expression of vimentin and an increased number of OX1-, OX19- and ED1-positive cells. However, we could not detect any accumulation of type I and IV collagen or laminin in the tubulointerstitium. RT-PCR showed that the expression of mRNA for type I collagen was not increased, compared with that in control rats.
Conclusions: We succeeded in developing a model of persistent nephrosis without severe glomerular abnormalities, nephrectomy or other manoeuvres known to induce disturbed haemodynamics, using an agent without tubulointerstitial toxicity, and considered it to be suitable for investigating the direct toxicity of proteinuria. In this model, isolated massive proteinuria induced interstitial injury. However, the degree of injury was suggested to be much less than that observed in other previously developed models.