Asymptomatic circulating T-cell clone cause renal polymorphic inflammatory fibrosis

Clin Exp Nephrol. 2017 Oct;21(5):781-786. doi: 10.1007/s10157-016-1373-6. Epub 2016 Dec 26.


Background: Renal complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma encompass a wide spectrum of monoclonal Ig-related pathologies. Clonal circulating T cells can also be associated with non-renal autoimmune disorders induced by overproduction of specific patterns of cytokines or unbalanced lymphocytes sub-populations.

Methods: Immunophenotyping of circulating T cells and TCR gene restriction analysis using Biomed-2 protocol. NF-κB staining and mRNA quantification of inflammatory genes in HK-2 epithelial renal cells exposed to supernatants of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with clonal T-cell population.

Results: Here, we could identify a persistent clonal T-cell population, only characterized by in-depth immunophenotyping of circulating lymphocytes and using multiplex PCR analysis of TCR gene rearrangements, in two patients with polymorphic inflammatory renal fibrosis of unknown origin. Using an in vitro approach, we could demonstrate that peripheral blood mononuclear cells including the clonal population can trigger a phenotype switch of epithelial renal cells from a quiescent state to a pro-inflammatory state characterized by NF-κB nuclear translocation and overexpression of inflammatory cytokine or chemokine.

Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that circulating T-cell clones may directly activate epithelial renal cells or promote a T-/B-cell population with autoimmune reactive properties against kidney cells, which, in the absence of overt renal lymphoma infiltration, lead to the subsequent inflammatory renal fibrotic phenotype.

Keywords: Biomed-2; Interstitial nephritis; Large granular lymphocytic leukemia; Renal fibrosis; T-cell clone.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Line
  • Clone Cells
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • Genes, T-Cell Receptor
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Kidney / immunology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Leukemia, Large Granular Lymphocytic / blood
  • Leukemia, Large Granular Lymphocytic / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Large Granular Lymphocytic / genetics
  • Leukemia, Large Granular Lymphocytic / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / blood
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / diagnosis
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / genetics
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / immunology*
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • NF-kappa B