Lupus nephritis is a serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus, mediated by IgG immune complex (IC) deposition in kidneys, with limited treatment options. Kidney macrophages are critical tissue sentinels that express IgG-binding Fcγ receptors (FcγRs), with previous studies identifying prenatally seeded resident macrophages as major IC responders. Using single-cell transcriptomic and spatial analyses in murine and human lupus nephritis, we sought to understand macrophage heterogeneity and subset-specific contributions in disease. In lupus nephritis, the cell fate trajectories of tissue-resident (TrMac) and monocyte-derived (MoMac) kidney macrophages were perturbed, with disease-associated transcriptional states indicating distinct pathogenic roles for TrMac and MoMac subsets. Lupus nephritis–associated MoMac subsets showed marked induction of FcγR response genes, avidly internalized circulating ICs, and presented IC-opsonized antigen. In contrast, lupus nephritis–associated TrMac subsets demonstrated limited IC uptake, but expressed monocyte chemoattractants, and their depletion attenuated monocyte recruitment to the kidney. TrMacs also produced B cell tissue niche factors, suggesting a role in supporting autoantibody-producing lymphoid aggregates. Extensive similarities were observed with human kidney macrophages, revealing cross-species transcriptional disruption in lupus nephritis. Overall, our study suggests a division of labor in the kidney macrophage response in lupus nephritis, with treatment implications — TrMacs orchestrate leukocyte recruitment while MoMacs take up and present IC antigen.
Nathan Richoz, Zewen K. Tuong, Kevin W. Loudon, Eduardo Patiño-Martínez, John R. Ferdinand, Anaïs Portet, Kathleen R. Bashant, Emeline Thevenon, Francesca Rucci, Thomas Hoyler, Tobias Junt, Mariana J. Kaplan, Richard M. Siegel, Menna R. Clatworthy