Indexed on: 10 Feb '17Published on: 10 Feb '17Published in: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN
IL-36 cytokines are proinflammatory and have an important role in innate and adaptive immunity, but the role of IL-36 signaling in renal tubulointerstitial lesions (TILs), a major prognostic feature of renal inflammation and fibrosis, remains undetermined. In this study, increased IL-36α expression detected in renal biopsy specimens and urine samples from patients with renal TILs correlated with renal function impairment. We confirmed the increased expression of IL-36α in the renal tubular epithelial cells of a mouse model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) and related cell models using mechanically induced pressure, oxidative stress, or high mobility group box 1. In contrast, the kidneys of IL-36 receptor (IL-36R) knockout mice exhibit attenuated TILs after UUO. Compared with UUO-treated wild-type mice, UUO-treated IL-36 knockout mice exhibited markedly reduced NLRP3 inflammasome activation and macrophage/T cell infiltration in the kidney and T cell activation in the renal draining lymph nodes. In vitro, recombinant IL-36α facilitated NLRP3 inflammasome activation in renal tubular epithelial cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells and enhanced dendritic cell-induced T cell proliferation and Th17 differentiation. Furthermore, deficiency of IL-23, which was diminished in IL-36R knockout UUO mice, also reduced renal TIL formation in UUO mice. In wild-type mice, administration of an IL-36R antagonist after UUO reproduced the results obtained in UUO-treated IL-36R knockout mice. We propose that IL-36 signaling contributes to the pathogenesis of renal TILs through the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and IL-23/IL-17 axis.