Background: Transplant rejection is mediated by T-cell activation which is modulated by interleukin-2 (IL-2) binding to IL-2R (CD25). Monoclonal anti-IL-2 receptor antibody is used in renal transplantation to reduce rejection. Interestingly, proximal tubular epithelial cells (TEC) express CD25, similar to T cells. We have demonstrated that IL-2 induces murine TEC apoptosis through down-regulation of the caspase-8 inhibitor protein c-FLIP. Anti-CD25 antibody may be useful clinically to limit renal injury, but this has not been tested in human TEC.
Methods: Human PT-2 TEC were isolated and cloned from the urine of transplant patients. Apoptosis was determined by FACS with Annexin-V FITC. Protein expression was studied using western blot, and mRNA levels by quantitative real-time (PR-PCR).
Results: We demonstrated that the morphology of a human kidney cell line (PT-2) cloned from urine was consistent with proximal TEC and expresses alkaline phosphatase, cytokeratin, vimentin, CD13, CD26, and low levels of E-cadherin. Basal IL-2 receptor (CD25) was up-regulated by IL-2/IFN-γ stimulation, and cytokine exposure induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Apoptosis with IL-2/IFN-γ was associated with increased caspase-8 activity and decreased endogenous caspase-8 inhibitor c-FLIP mRNA and protein expression. IL-2/IFN-γ-induced apoptosis could be blocked by pre-treatment of PT-2 with anti IL-2R antibody (basiliximab) but not control IgG antibody.
Conclusions: These data demonstrate for the first time in human TEC that IL-2 and IFN-γ can induce TEC apoptosis which can be blocked by CD25 blockade antibody. These data suggest that anti-CD25 mAb might similarly attenuate inflammation-induced TEC injury in vivo. Kidney-expressed CD25 may represent a clinically important new target for attenuating early inflammatory injury in donor kidneys and preserving renal function during anti-rejection therapy.