Purpose: Cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis (CGGN) is a type of membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) that develops in patients with systemic cryoglobulinemia. To date the exact pathogenesis of CGGN remains unclear. It has been suggested that macrophages may be significant contributors to the glomerular injury in this disease. In our study we attempt to characterize the macrophages in human CGGN using classical activation and regulatory macrophage markers.
Material and method: We searched our database for renal biopsy cases of CGGN. Macrophages were detected using a monoclonal anti-CD68 antibody. Two groups of macrophage markers were used: classical activation markers, including iNOS, CXCL9 and CCL20, and regulatory markers: SPHK1 and LIGHT. The stains were performed using immunohistochemical method.
Results: Five patients with CGGN were identified. Four patients had systemic cryoglobulinemia and two had a serological evidence of hepatitis C virus infection. In all cases the glomeruli contained numerous macrophages. Staining for activatory macrophage markers revealed a strong nuclear staining for CXCL9 in numerous cells, including those corresponding to the macrophage location. Staining for the other activatory markers, as well as staining for regulatory markers, was not significant.
Conclusion: In this study of human CGGN we showed a striking expression of cytokine CXCL9, a classical macrophage activation marker, by the macrophages and possibly other cell types within the glomeruli. This observation points to the possible role of classically activated macrophages in the pathogenesis of MPGN. If this observation is confirmed on a larger group of patients, the cytokine CXCL9 could become a potential therapeutic target for human CGGN.