Novel and enhanced IL-1 gene expression in autoimmune mice with lupus

J M Boswell, M A Yui, S Endres, D W Burt, V E Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IL-1 is a pleiotropic factor encoded for by at least two genes, alpha and beta, and capable of eliciting a broad set of immunologic and inflammatory events. MRL/MP-lpr (MRL-lpr) mice are an appealing model for studies of renal injury inasmuch as disease in this strain is spontaneous, rapid, predictable, and regulated by the lpr gene. Infiltration of macrophages and the proliferation of the glomerular mesangial cells are prominent features of renal disease. Because both mesangial cells and macrophages can synthesize IL-1, the purpose of this study was to determine whether enhanced IL-1 gene expression is associated with lupus nephritis in the MRL-lpr mouse model. Glomerular macrophages, abundant in the kidneys of MRL-lpr mice but rarely present in the kidney of congenic MRL/MP-++(MRL-++) mice, were isolated and cultured and found to express a 10-fold increase in both IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta mRNA transcripts as compared with MRL-++ and MRL-lpr mesangial cells. IL-1 alpha was not detected in the total RNA extracted from freshly excised kidney, whereas IL-1 beta transcripts were detected in both the renal cortex of MRL-lpr as well as MRL-++ animals. A previously undetected truncated 1200 nucleotide IL-1 beta transcript together with the conventional 1600 nucleotide IL-1 beta transcript was found in kidneys from MRL-lpr and was abundantly expressed in glomeruli of MRL-lpr mice with lupus nephritis. Isolated glomeruli from MRL-lpr mice with nephritis produce IL-1, whereas in normal glomeruli from MRL-++ and C3H/FeJ mice this cytokine was not detected. Glomerular macrophages and mesangial cells cultured from MRL-lpr mice with nephritis both secrete IL-1. These studies indicate that IL-1 beta gene expression and IL-1 protein are increased in the kidneys of autoimmune mice with lupus nephritis and is generated, at least in part, by glomerular macrophages. We speculate that an alteration in IL-1 beta gene expression may be responsible for causing a cascade of events leading to acute and chronic renal injury.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-24
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1988

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