Objective: Lupus nephritis is characterized by immune complex deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration into the renal glomeruli. Local generation of chemokines and the presence of chemokine receptors on the infiltrating cells may be involved in this process. Fractalkine (Fkn)/CX3CL1 and its receptor, CX3CR1, form one such chemokine system. We therefore undertook this study to investigate whether Fkn antagonist inhibits the initiation and progression of lupus nephritis in MRL/lpr mice.
Methods: NH(2)-terminally truncated Fkn/CX3CL1 analogs were transfected into a nonmetastatic fibroblastoid cell line, MRL/N-1, and injected subcutaneously into MRL/lpr mice.
Results: Fkn analogs truncated by >/=4 amino acid residues from the N-terminus failed to induce chemotaxis and calcium influx by CX3CR1-expressing cells. Of these, the most potent antagonist (Fkn-AT) lacked the 4 N-terminal amino acid residues. Fkn expression in the glomerulus was significantly increased in 12-week-old MRL/lpr mice. Expression was localized predominantly in the glomerular endothelial cells, but was occasionally observed in the mesangial cells and, to a lesser extent, in the interstitial microvasculature. Inoculation of MRL/lpr mice with Fkn-AT before the onset or during the early stages of lupus nephritis significantly reduced glomerular hypercellularity, glomerulosclerosis, crescent formation, and vasculitis compared with control mice. This seemed to be due to a marked reduction in macrophage accumulation. In contrast, Fkn antagonist did not affect pneumonitis, sialadenitis, lymphadenopathy, or splenomegaly.
Conclusion: We prepared a novel potent Fkn antagonist and demonstrated its ability to delay the initiation and ameliorate the progression of lupus nephritis. This agent may therefore provide a new therapeutic approach to lupus nephritis.