Renal tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis are common hallmarks of etiologically different progressive chronic kidney diseases (CKD) that eventually result in organ failure. Even though these pathological manifestations constitute a major public health problem, diagnostic tests, as well as therapeutic options, are currently limited. Members of the dickkopf (DKK) family, DKK1 and -2, have been associated with inhibition of Wnt signaling and organ fibrosis. Here, we identify DKK3 as a stress-induced, tubular epithelia–derived, secreted glycoprotein that mediates kidney fibrosis. Genetic as well as antibody-mediated abrogation of DKK3 led to reduced tubular atrophy and decreased interstitial matrix accumulation in two mouse models of renal fibrosis. This was facilitated by an amplified, antifibrogenic, inflammatory T cell response and diminished canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling in stressed tubular epithelial cells. Moreover, in humans, urinary DKK3 levels specifically correlated with the extent of tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis in different glomerular and tubulointerstitial diseases. In summary, our data suggest that DKK3 constitutes an immunosuppressive and a profibrotic epithelial protein that might serve as a potential therapeutic target and diagnostic marker in renal fibrosis.
Giuseppina Federico, Michael Meister, Daniel Mathow, Gunnar H. Heine, Gerhard Moldenhauer, Zoran V. Popovic, Viola Nordström, Annette Kopp-Schneider, Thomas Hielscher, Peter J. Nelson, Franz Schaefer, Stefan Porubsky, Danilo Fliser, Bernd Arnold, Hermann-Josef Gröne
Acute allograft rejection is mediated by host CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) targeting graft class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. In experimental rodent models, rejection requires differentiation of naive CD8+ T cells into alloreactive CTL within secondary lymphoid organs, whereas in humans, CTL may alternatively develop within the graft from circulating CD8+ effector memory T cells (TEM) that recognize class I MHC molecules on graft endothelial cells (EC). This latter pathway is poorly understood. Here, we show that host CD4+ TEM, activated by EC class II MHC molecules, provide critical help for this process. First, blocking HLA-DR on EC lining human artery grafts in immunodeficient mice reduces CD8+ CTL development within and acute rejection of the artery by adoptively transferred allogeneic human lymphocytes. Second, siRNA knockdown or CRISPR/Cas9 ablation of class II MHC molecules on EC prevents CD4+ TEM from helping CD8+ TEM to develop into CTL in vitro. Finally, implanted synthetic microvessels, formed from CRISPR/Cas9-modified EC lacking class II MHC molecules, are significantly protected from CD8+ T cell–mediated destruction in vivo. We conclude that human CD8+ TEM–mediated rejection targeting graft EC class I MHC molecules requires help from CD4+ TEM cells activated by recognition of class II MHC molecules.
Parwiz Abrahimi, Lingfeng Qin, William G. Chang, Alfred L.M. Bothwell, George Tellides, W. Mark Saltzman, Jordan S. Pober
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