Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is associated with gadolinium-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast exposure in the setting of acute or chronic renal compromise. It has been proposed that circulating fibrocytes mediate the disease. A study was conducted to determine whether bone marrow-derived fibroblast precursors are involved in contributing to organ fibrosis in MRI contrast-treated rodents with renal insufficiency. Rats status post 5/6 nephrectomy underwent bone marrow transplant from human placental alkaline phosphatase (hPAP)-expressing donors. After engraftment, animals were treated with gadolinium-based MRI contrast (2.5 mmol/kg IP), during weekdays for 4 weeks, or an equivalent volume of normal saline. Dermal cellularity in the contrast-treated group was fourfold that of control. Skin cells from the contrast-treated group demonstrated greater hPAP expression with co-expression of pro-collagen I and α-smooth muscle actin-positive stress fibers. Donor and host cells expressed CD34. Dihydroethidium staining of skin was greater in the contrast-treated animals, indicating oxidative stress. This was abrogated when the animals were co-administered the superoxide dismutase mimetic tempol. In conclusion, a bone marrow-derived cell population is increased in the dermis of MRI contrast-treated rodents. The cell markers are consistent with fibrocytes mediating the disease. These changes correlate with oxidative stress and expression of Nox4, suggestive of a novel therapeutic target. Elucidation of the mechanisms of MRI contrast-induced fibrosis may aid in discovering therapies to this devastating disease.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.