Essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency exerts a beneficial effect on immune-mediated glomerulonephritis, preventing both the tissue injury and consequent mortality. Because both macrophages and eicosanoids are thought to play pathogenic roles in glomerulonephritis, and because macrophages play an important role in modulating arachidonate metabolism at sites of renal injury, the effects of EFA deficiency on the population of resident glomerular macrophages and on glomerular eicosanoid generation were examined. EFA deficiency led to a striking reduction in the number of resident glomerular macrophages and a corresponding reduction in the number of resident glomerular Ia+ cells. This phenomenon was not strain-specific, was not due to a decrease in circulating monocytes, was not a function of changes in cell surface labeling characteristics, and was not restricted to a specific subset of glomeruli. In addition, EFA deficiency affected other areas of the renal cortex: a comparable depletion of interstitial macrophages and Ia+ cells was also observed. In conjunction with the decrease in glomerular macrophages seen with the deficiency state, a marked decrease in both basal and angiotensin II-stimulated glomerular eicosanoid production was noted. In contrast to angiotensin II, platelet-activating factor-induced eicosanoid production was not significantly affected by the deficiency state. These changes in glomerular eicosanoid production could not be attributed to changes in glomerular cyclooxygenase or reacylation capacity. Dietary (n-6) fatty acid supplementation, but not (n-3) fatty acid supplementation, reversed both the decrease in glomerular macrophages and the diminished eicosanoid metabolism seen with the deficiency state. Understanding the mechanisms behind the changes in the glomerular microenvironment induced by EFA deficiency may provide a basis for elucidating the protective effect of dietary fatty acid manipulation on immune-mediated glomerulonephritis.
J B Lefkowith, G Schreiner