Indexed on: 04 Jan '18Published on: 04 Jan '18Published in: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN
Albuminuria is a key instigator of tubulointerstitial inflammation associated with CKD, but the mechanism through which filtered albumin propagates renal injury remains unclear. In this study, we explored the role in this process of exosome mRNA released from tubular epithelial cells (TECs). Compared with control mice, acute and chronic kidney injury models had more exosomes containing inflammatory cytokine mRNA, particularly the chemokine CCL2, in kidneys and urine. In vitro stimulation of TECs with BSA recapitulated this finding. Notably, the internalization of purified TEC exosomes by cultured macrophages increased if TECs were exposed to BSA. Macrophage internalization of exosomes from BSA-treated TECs led to an enhanced inflammatory response and macrophage migration, but CCL2 silencing in TECs prevented these effects. Using a GFP-CCL2 fusion mRNA construct, we observed direct transfer of CCL2 mRNA from TEC exosomes to macrophages. Mice subjected to tail vein injection of purified BSA-treated TEC exosomes developed tubular injury with renal inflammatory cell infiltration. However, injection of exosomes from BSA-treated CCL2-deficient TECs induced less severe kidney inflammation. Finally, in patients with IgA nephropathy, the increase of proteinuria correlated with augmented urinary excretion of exosomes with exaggerated expression of CCL2 mRNA. Moreover, the level of CCL2 mRNA in urinary exosomes correlated closely with levels of renal interstitial macrophage infiltration in these patients. Our studies demonstrate that the increasing release of exosomes that transfer CCL2 mRNA from TECs to macrophages constitutes a critical mechanism of albumin-induced tubulointerstitial inflammation.