Background: The chemokine receptor, CCR5, has been identified as an essential co-receptor with CD4, which permits entry of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) into mammalian cells. This receptor may also mediate leukocyte and parenchymal responses to injury by virtue of its binding to locally released chemokines such as RANTES, MIP-1 alpha and MIP-1 beta during inflammation. The localization of CCR5 in human or primate kidney is unknown. In this study we sought to identify sites of CCR5 synthesis through localization of mRNA coding for this peptide.
Methods: CCR5 cDNA cloned into an expression vector was transcribed into a 1.1 Kb antisense riboprobe that was utilized for in situ hybridization (ISH) and Northern blotting studies.
Results: Northern analysis demonstrated positive hybridization for CCR5 mRNA in total RNA isolated from allograft nephrectomy tissue with features of severe transplant rejection as well as in kidney tissue with focal interstitial nephritis. No comparable hybridization signal was achieved with human kidney tissue uninvolved by disease. CCR5 mRNA was not identified in intrinsic renal cell types by ISH in normal human (N = 6), normal macaque kidney (N = 5), in kidneys from macaques with established infection by HIV-2 (N = 9), kidneys from macaques infected with HIV-1 (N = 4), nor in kidneys from SIV-infected macaques (N = 5). CCR5 was identified by ISH in human kidneys with features of interstitial nephritis (N = 3) and in rejected human allograft kidneys (N = 14). The expression of CCR5 was restricted to infiltrating mononuclear leukocytes at sites of chronic tubulointerstitial injury and at sites of vascular and interestitial rejection, respectively.
Conclusions: Understanding the localization of CCR5 as well as other chemokine receptors may help us understand how specificity in leukocyte trafficking is achieved in renal inflammatory processes such as allograft rejection and interstitial nephritis. They provide additional evidence that chemokines may be critical mediators of leukocyte trafficking in renal allograft rejection. These findings may account in part for the difficulty in demonstrating HIV infection of renal cells in human HIV infection, since these cells appear to lack constitutive expression of an essential co-receptor needed for viral entry.