Anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis: Characterization of an epitope, antibody response, and the potential role of IL-4Rα in disease progression

Julie Milayna Robertson, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Anti-Glomerular Basement Membrane Glomerulonephritis (anti-GBM GM) is one of the earliest described autoimmune disorders. Patients present with proteinuria, anti-GBM antibodies, and renal failure. Studies have implicated a T Helper 1 (TH1) response in disease induction and a T Helper 2 (TH2) response for disease progression. A 13 amino acid long peptide sequence spanning residues 28 through 40 [pCol(28–40)] of the Collagen IV α3 non-collagen domain (Col IV α3 NCD) is immunogenic and induces anti-GBM GN. In order to fully understand disease initiation, this peptide was further characterized. Peptides were created containing one amino acid substitution for the entire length of pCol(28–40) and induction of anti-GBM GN was monitored. When residues 31, 33, or 34 contained the substitution, anti-GBM GN was unable to be induced. Thus, residues 31, 33, and 34 of pCol(28–40) are required for induction of anti-GBM. Glomerular injury is observed as early as 14 days post anti-GBM GN induction. However, the presence of anti-GBM antibodies is not observed until 20 days post immunization. An enlarged lymph node adjacent to the diseased kidney exhibits B cell activation after renal injury and produces antibodies toward GBM. Thus, anti-GBM antibodies are a consequence of the initial renal injury. Differences between disease susceptible and disease resistant rat strains exist in the expression of IL-4Rα, a major player in the TH2 response. IL-4Rα signaling is regulated by soluble IL-4Rα (sIL-4Rα). Low expression levels of sIL-4Rα result in the stabilization of IL-4 binding, while elevated expression sequesters IL-4. Quantitative PCR experiments noted low siL-4Rα expression levels in disease susceptible rats. Induction of an immune response toward sIL-4Rα in this strain was responsible for delayed disease progression in 15 out of the 17 experimental animals. Antibody transfer and in vivo biological activity experiments confirmed that delayed disease development was due to anti-sIL-4Rα antibodies. Together these experiments indicate that a T-cell epitope is required for activation of a TH1 autoimmune response and anti-GBM antibodies are a consequence of renal injury. More importantly, a role for IL-4Rα signaling is implicated in the progression of anti-GBM GN.

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Recommended Citation

Robertson, Julie Milayna, "Anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis: Characterization of an epitope, antibody response, and the potential role of IL-4Rα in disease progression" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3376898.