The molecular pathogenesis of focal/diffuse proliferative lupus glomerulonephritis was studied by cDNA microarray analysis of gene expression in glomeruli from clinical biopsies. Transcriptional phenotyping of glomeruli isolated by laser-capture microscopy revealed considerable kidney-to-kidney heterogeneity in increased transcript expression, resulting in four main gene clusters that identified the presence of B cells, several myelomonocytic lineages, fibroblast and epithelial cell proliferation, matrix alterations, and expression of type I IFN–inducible genes. Glomerulus-to-glomerulus variation within a kidney was less marked. The myeloid lineage transcripts, characteristic of those found in isolated activated macrophages and myeloid dendritic cells, were widely distributed in all biopsy samples. One major subgroup of the samples expressed fibrosis-related genes that correlated with pathological evidence of glomerulosclerosis; however, decreased expression of TGF-β1 argued against its role in lupus renal fibrosis. Expression of type I IFN–inducible transcripts by a second subset of samples was associated with reduced expression of fibrosis-related genes and milder pathological features. This pattern of gene expression resembled that exhibited by activated NK cells. A large gene cluster with decreased expression found in all samples included ion channels and transcription factors, indicating a loss-of-function response to the glomerular injury.
Karin S. Peterson, Jing-Feng Huang, Jessica Zhu, Vivette D’Agati, Xuejun Liu, Nancy Miller, Mark G. Erlander, Michael R. Jackson, Robert J. Winchester