To study an involvement of glomerular endothelial cells in the development of anti-Thy-1 nephritis, we examined the expression of endothelial cell adhesion molecules during the course of this model. Ribonuclease protection assay elucidated that expression of mRNA for intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) was markedly enhanced in the glomeruli with a peak at 2 h (6.5-fold, p < 0.05) after the anti-Thy-1 antibody injection when mesangial cell lysis was recognized and IL-1β mRNA expression was induced in the glomeruli. The glomerular ICAM-1 was predominantly localized in the endothelial cells and was intensely immunostained at day 1 in the glomerular endothelial cells. In contrast, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) and vascular endothelial-cadherin mRNA expression increased gradually with a peak at day 6 (2.6-fold (p < 0.05) and 4.2-fold (p < 0.05), respectively) in the glomeruli with mesangial proliferative lesion. PECAM-1 was also immunolocalized in the glomerular endothelial cells and the immunoreactivity was greatly enhanced at day 6. Glomerular expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 (E-selectin) was unchanged at a low level during the course of anti-Thy-1 nephritis. Blocking of ICAM-1 by administration of anti-ICAM-1 antibody showed significant decrease in the number of polymorphonuclear leukocytes accumulating in the glomeruli by 45.7% (9.4 ± 0.2 vs. 5.1 ± 0.1 per glomerular cross section, p < 0.01) at 2 h. These results suggest a significant involvement of glomerular endothelial cells in the development and repair of anti-Thy-1 nephritis via direct or indirect intercellular interactions between mesangial cells and glomerular endothelial cells.

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