Background: 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], the active form of vitamin D3, is a potent immunomodulatory agent on several cell types such as monocytes and mesangial cells. Recruitment of inflammatory cells, as well as stimulation of resident cells and mesangial matrix accumulation are key features of various experimental and human glomerular diseases. Here we show that 1,25(OH)2D3 attenuates the morphologic and functional alterations in anti-Thy-1.1. nephritis, an experimental model of mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis.
Methods: The anti-Thy-1.1 group (group I) comprised 24 rats that at day 0 received 0.5 mL of saline containing 400 microg of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) anti-Thy-1.1 IgG. The anti-Thy-1.1 treated with 1,25(OH)2D3 group (group II) were 24 rats given 1,25(OH)2D3 at the dose of 25 ng/100 g body wt/day, from day -3 to day 14. At day 0, the rats received 400 microg of anti-Thy-1.1 monoclonal IgG. The control group (group III) comprised 12 rats injected with vehicle alone; the control group treated with 1,25(OH)2D3 (group IV)-12 rats were given 1,25(OH)2D3 as in group II without mAb administration. Proteinuria and urinary interleukin-6 excretion were measured daily. Blood urea nitrogen and creatinine, creatinine clearance, calcium, and phosphate were measured at days 0, 4, 7, and 14. In addition to conventional periodic acid-Schiff staining, binding of anti-Thy-1.1 IgG and C3b complement fraction, His48- and ED1-positive cells were studied by immunofluorescence. Mesangial proliferation was studied by the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) technique. Apoptosis was evaluated by the TUNEL assay.
Results: The anti-Thy-1.1 treated with 1,25(OH)2D3 group versus the anti-Thy-1.1 alone group showed a significant reduction in urinary protein (at day 7, 424 +/- 228 vs. 66 +/- 30 mg/mg urinary creatinine, P = 0.02) and interleukin-6 excretion (at day 3, 537 +/- 360 pg/mL vs. 110 +/- 34 pg/mg urinary creatinine, P = 0.015), reduced glomerular diameters (at day 7, 283 +/- 38 vs. 261 +/- 48 microm, P < 0.01), decreased neutrophil (at day 4, 20 +/- 12 His48-positive cells/glomerulus vs. 3.7 +/- 1.3 His48-positive cells/glomerulus, P < 0.001), and monocyte accumulation (day 7, 4.9 +/- 2.9 ED1-positive cells/glomerulus vs. 2.8 +/- 2.9 ED1-positive cells/glomerulus, P < 0.05), and attenuated glomerular cells proliferation (day 7, 13 +/- 3.2 PCNA-positive cells/glomerulus vs. 9.4 +/- 3 PCNA-positive cells/glomerulus, P < 0.01). Apoptosis showed a biphasic behavior with an early peak at day 4 in the anti-Thy-1.1 group (2.3 +/- 2.2 TUNEL-positive cells/glom) related to cellular lysis and a late peak at day 14 related to the recovery phase.
Conclusions: 1,25(OH)2D3 can reduce glomerular hypercellularity, inflammatory infiltration in anti-Thy-1.1 nephritis, preserving the apoptotic response of the reparative phase.