Quantification of dendritic cell subsets in human renal tissue under normal and pathological conditions

Kidney Int. 2007 May;71(10):1001-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ki.5002187. Epub 2007 Mar 14.


Dendritic cells (DCs) play critical roles in immune responses and can be distinguished in two major subsets, myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs. Although the presence of DC in all peripheral organs, including the kidney, has been well documented, no accurate estimates of DC subsets in human kidneys have been reported. This study shows a detailed analysis of DC subsets in cryosections of human renal tissue. The cortex of normal kidneys contains at least two different HLA-DR(+) myeloid DC subtypes characterized by BDCA-1(+)DC-SIGN(+) and BDCA-1(+)DC-SIGN(-). The staining for DC-SIGN completely overlapped with CD68 in the renal interstitium. Unexpectedly, BDCA-2(+)DC-SIGN(-) plasmacytoid DCs are also abundantly present. Both subsets are located in the tubulo-interstitium often with a high frequency around, but rarely observed within glomeruli. Quantification of BDCA-1(+), DC-SIGN(+), and BDCA-2(+) cells in normal human renal tissue (pretransplant biopsy living donors; n=21) revealed that BDCA-1 is about four times as frequently present as BDCA-2. A preliminary cross-sectional analysis of DC in diseased kidneys, including rejection and immunoglobulin A nephropathy, revealed that the number of DC as well as their anatomical distribution might change under pathophysiological conditions. In conclusion, we show that human kidneys contain a dense network of myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs and provide the tools for phenotyping and enumeration of these cells to better understand interindividual differences in immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD1
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / deficiency
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dendritic Cells / classification*
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glycoproteins
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Kidney / cytology*
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Lectins, C-Type / deficiency
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Living Donors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / deficiency
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Myeloid Cells / cytology
  • Plasma Cells / cytology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / deficiency
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Immunologic / deficiency
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Antigens, Surface
  • CD1C protein, human
  • CLEC4C protein, human
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • DC-specific ICAM-3 grabbing nonintegrin
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Immunologic