, Volume 431, Issue 1, pp 53-61

Glomerular handling of immune complex in the acute phase of active in situ immune complex glomerulonephritis employing cationized ferritin in rats

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 The ultrastructural localization of immune complex (IC) and inflammatory mediator systems in the glomerulus was investigated in active in situ IC glomerulonephritis employing cationized ferritin in rats. Glomerulonephritis was induced by unilateral renal perfusion of cationized ferritin as antigen (Ag) in preimmunized rats, and anti-ferritin antibody (Ab), C3 and the rat C5b–9 complex were localized by means of immunogold electron microscopy. Ag–Ab complexes were initially formed subendothelially, associated with C3, and attracted platelets, polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) and monocytes. Then Ag–Ab complexes, without C3, passed across the glomerular basement membrane to re-aggregate subepithelially accompanied by C3 deposition after 1 day. Ag–Ab complexes without C3 accumulated in the inter-podocyte space within 1 day and were seen in the epithelial cells at 6 h. C5b–9 complexes were found in subepithelial immune deposits and in membrane vesicles of the epithelial cells, but only in very small amounts in subendothelial immune deposits. Accumulated platelets, PMN, and monocyte were in direct contact with endothelial cells or subendothelial IC. PMN and monocytes contained Ag, Ab and C3 in intracytoplasmic vacuoles. Ag–Ab complexes were also found in the mesangial matrix adjacent to the subendothelial region after 2 h and increased slightly in number, with expansion of the mesangial area thereafter. Most ICs formed in the subendothelial space rapidly formed lattices of a size that activated C3 and were then translocated to the subepithelial space. The potential ability of C3 to solubilize ICs in the subendothelial region may be important in this process. Endocytosis of subendothelial ICs by PMN and/or monocytes and the movement of ICs to the mesangial matrix may also contribute to the removal of IC from the subendothelial space.

Received: 26 November 1996 / Accepted: 10 February 1997