Chronic obstructive uropathy in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice: Lymphocyte infiltration is not required for progressive tubulointerstitial injury
Progressive renal injury in humans and experimental animal models is characterized by tubular atrophy, infiltration of mononuclear inflammatory cells, and interstitial fibrosis. Permanent unilateral ureter ligation represents a reproducible model for investigating mechanisms of progressive kidney injury, and in the rat is characterized by tubular epithelial cell proliferation followed by apoptosis and progressive infiltration of monocytes and lymphocytes. Nevertheless, whether monocytes or lymphocytes play a dominant role in causing tubulointerstitial damage remains to be elucidated. In the current study, a model of chronic obstructive uropathy in the mouse is established and the role of lymphocyte infiltration in the evolution of the tubule and interstitial alterations is investigated. Permanent ligation of the left ureter in wild-type (C3H/HeJ) mice resulted in progressive atrophy of tubules and interstitial fibrosis compared with the contralateral kidney over a 30-d period. Immunoperoxidase studies on frozen sections taken from kidneys at 0, 3, 10, 20, and 30 d after ureter ligation showed that the tubulointerstitial injury was accompanied by a marked and progressive increase in interstitial macrophages and T lymphocytes, with no appreciable increase in B lymphocytes. No increase in inflammatory cells was detected in contralateral kidneys over the same time frame. The significance of T lymphocyte infiltration was examined by comparing the degree of tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis and the nature and quantity of the inflammatory infiltrate in wild-type mice and C3HSMn.C-Scid/J (SCID) mice subjected to permanent left ureter ligation. SCID mice have genetic defects in immunoglobulin and T cell receptor gene rearrangements and are devoid of circulating mature B and T lymphocytes. Wild-type and SCID mice developed tubular atrophy and interstitial volume expansion in the ligated kidney to the same degree and at the same rate. SCID mice developed a prominent and marked monocyte/macrophage infiltrate in the ligated kidney, which was essentially equal to that in wild-type mice. In contrast, consistent with the known absence of mature lymphocytes in SCID mice, there was essentially no T lymphocyte infiltration into the ligated kidney of SCID mice. These results demonstrate the effective establishment of the model of maintained unilateral ureter ligation in mice, which is readily applicable to genetic mutant strains thus allowing for specific investigation of the role of individual components of the inflammatory response in progressive tubulointerstitial injury. These studies further demonstrate that lymphocyte infiltration is not required for progressive tubular atrophy and increased interstitial fibrosis after maintained unilateral ureter ligation.