Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Mediates Proliferative GN via CD74

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2016 Jun;27(6):1650-64. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2015020149. Epub 2015 Oct 9.


Pathologic proliferation of mesangial and parietal epithelial cells (PECs) is a hallmark of various glomerulonephritides. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a pleiotropic cytokine that mediates inflammation by engagement of a receptor complex involving the components CD74, CD44, CXCR2, and CXCR4. The proliferative effects of MIF may involve CD74 together with the coreceptor and PEC activation marker CD44. Herein, we analyzed the effects of local glomerular MIF/CD74/CD44 signaling in proliferative glomerulonephritides. MIF, CD74, and CD44 were upregulated in the glomeruli of patients and mice with proliferative glomerulonephritides. During disease, CD74 and CD44 were expressed de novo in PECs and colocalized in both PECs and mesangial cells. Stress stimuli induced MIF secretion from glomerular cells in vitro and in vivo, in particular from podocytes, and MIF stimulation induced proliferation of PECs and mesangial cells via CD74. In murine crescentic GN, Mif-deficient mice were almost completely protected from glomerular injury, the development of cellular crescents, and the activation and proliferation of PECs and mesangial cells, whereas wild-type mice were not. Bone marrow reconstitution studies showed that deficiency of both nonmyeloid and bone marrow-derived Mif reduced glomerular cell proliferation and injury. In contrast to wild-type mice, Cd74-deficient mice also were protected from glomerular injury and ensuing activation and proliferation of PECs and mesangial cells. Our data suggest a novel molecular mechanism and glomerular cell crosstalk by which local upregulation of MIF and its receptor complex CD74/CD44 mediate glomerular injury and pathologic proliferation in GN.

Keywords: CD44; crescentic GN; mesangial cells; migration inhibitory factor; parietal epithelial cells; proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / etiology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / cytology
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL


  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • invariant chain