Background: Macrophage-mediated renal injury has been implicated in progressive forms of glomerulonephritis; however, a role for macrophages in type 2 diabetic nephropathy, the major cause of end-stage renal failure, has not been established. Therefore, we examined whether macrophages may promote the progression of type 2 diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice.
Methods: The incidence of renal injury was examined in db/db mice with varying blood sugar and lipid levels at 8 months of age. The association of renal injury with the accumulation of kidney macrophages was analyzed in normal db/+ and diabetic db/db mice at 2, 4, 6, and 8 months of age.
Results: In db/db mice, albuminuria and increased plasma creatinine correlated with elevated blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels but not with obesity or hyperlipidemia. Progressive diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice was associated with increased kidney macrophages. Macrophage accumulation and macrophage activation in db/db mice correlated with hyperglycemia, HbA1c levels, albuminuria, elevated plasma creatinine, glomerular and tubular damage, renal fibrosis, and kidney expression of macrophage chemokines [monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), osteopontin, migration inhibitory factor (MIF), monocyte-colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF)]. The accrual and activation of glomerular macrophages also correlated with increased glomerular IgG and C3 deposition, which was itself dependent on hyperglycemia.
Conclusion: Kidney macrophage accumulation is associated with the progression of type 2 diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice. Macrophage accumulation and activation in diabetic db/db kidneys is associated with prolonged hyperglycemia, glomerular immune complex deposition, and increased kidney chemokine production, and raises the possibility of specific therapies for targeting macrophage-mediated injury in diabetic nephropathy.