Cellular localization of inflammatory cytokines in human glomerulonephritis

Virchows Arch. 1994;424(5):459-64. doi: 10.1007/BF00191429.


We evaluated the expression of inflammatory cytokines in renal tissues obtained from 45 patients with several types of glomerulonephritis. Immunofluorescence studies with specific antibodies to interleukin (IL)-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and TNF-beta showed intense cytoplasmic staining in the glomeruli and interstitium. Cells positive for these cytokines were found frequently in tissue from patients with lupus nephritis (WHO Class IV) and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, and, to a lesser extent, in tissue from patients with mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis, Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis, and minimal change nephrotic syndrome. Most of these cells were dual-stained with a monoclonal antibody to monocytes-macrophages. In situ hybridization for cytokine mRNA, combined with immunoperoxidase staining for monocytes-macrophages, detected IL-1 alpha, IL-6, and TNF-alpha mRNA in monocytes-macrophages infiltrating the glomeruli and interstitium. Occasionally, there was weak or moderate immunostaining for IL-1 alpha, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in the glomerular mesangial and epithelial cells, but in situ hybridization signals were rarely found in these loci. These findings suggest that infiltrating monocytes-macrophages, rather than resident glomerular cells, are the major source of inflammatory cytokines in human glomerulonephritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glomerulonephritis / metabolism*
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Interleukins / analysis*
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha / analysis
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukins
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha