Lupus nephritis (LN) is a major organ complication and cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). There is an unmet medical need for developing more efficient and specific, mechanism-based therapies, which depends on improved understanding of the underlying LN pathogenesis. Here we present direct visual evidence from high-power intravital imaging of the local kidney tissue microenvironment in mouse models showing that activated memory T cells originated in immune organs and the LN-specific robust accumulation of the glomerular endothelial glycocalyx played central roles in LN development. The glomerular homing of T cells was mediated via the direct binding of their CD44 to the hyaluronic acid (HA) component of the endothelial glycocalyx, and glycocalyx-degrading enzymes efficiently disrupted homing. Short-course treatment with either hyaluronidase or heparinase III provided long-term organ protection as evidenced by vastly improved albuminuria and survival rate. This glycocalyx/HA/memory T cell interaction is present in multiple SLE-affected organs and may be therapeutically targeted for SLE complications, including LN.
Hiroyuki Kadoya, Ning Yu, Ina Maria Schiessl, Anne Riquier-Brison, Georgina Gyarmati, Dorinne Desposito, Kengo Kidokoro, Matthew J. Butler, Chaim O. Jacob, János Peti-Peterdi