Renal injury in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Lab Invest. 2002 Aug;82(8):999-1006. doi: 10.1097/01.lab.0000022222.03120.d4.


Hyperlipidemia is thought to accelerate the progression of renal diseases, but the mechanisms by which hyperlipidemia exerts its deleterious effect is still poorly understood. The aim of this study was to describe the renal pathology in a hyperlipidemic mouse strain, the apolipoprotein E-deficient mice (apoE-/-). Renal specimens from a total of 34 mice were studied, including 19 apoE-/- females at the age of 36 weeks, 9 apoE-/- females at the age of 24 weeks, and 6 wild-type females (C57BL/6) as controls. Kidneys were evaluated by histologic examination, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect MAC-2-expressing monocyte/macrophages, and the proliferation marker PCNA. Glomerular cell number, glomerular matrix area, and glomerular area were quantified by morphometry. Glomerular lesions in apoE-/- mice were characterized by macrophage accumulation, commonly with foam cell appearance, deposition of extracellular matrix, glomerular hyperplasia, and at times prominent mesangiolysis associated with capillary microaneurysms. Some cases demonstrated lipid deposits filling glomerular capillaries. Arterioles of the vascular pole demonstrated a "foamy" degeneration of smooth muscle cells. These lesions related to hyperlipidemia in this well-established mouse strain have not been previously described. Because this mouse strain is among the most widely studied for interventions aimed at altering hyperlipidemia and the progression of atherosclerosis, we believe that our observations may be of major importance for the accurate interpretation of interventional studies in this strain and offer a new opportunity to study mechanisms of hyperlipidemic renal injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation / biosynthesis
  • Apolipoproteins E / deficiency*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Galectin 3
  • Hyperlipidemias / physiopathology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Galectin 3