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PMCID: PMC3590361 DOI: 10.1007/s12079-012-0184-0


Minimal change disease (MCD), the most common idiopathic nephrotic syndrome in children, is characterized by proteinuria and loss of glomerular visceral epithelial cell (podocyte) ultrastructure. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN) are used to study podocyte injury in models of MCD in vivo and in vitro. We hypothesized that LPS and PAN influence components of the innate immune system in podocytes such as the Toll-Like Receptor (TLRs), TLR adapter molecules, and associated cytokines. Our results show that cultured human podocytes constitutively express TLRs 1-6 and TLR-10, but not TLRs 7-9. LPS (25 μg/ml) or PAN (60 μg/ml) caused comparable derangement of the actin cytoskeleton in podocytes. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis show that LPS differentially up-regulated the expression of genes for TLRs (1 > 4 ≥ 2 > 3 > 6 > 5), the adapter molecule, MyD88, and transcription factor NF-κB within one hour. LPS also caused increased levels of IL-6, IL-8 and MCP1 without exerting any effect on TNF-α, IFN-α or TGF-β1 at 24 h. Immunofluorescence intensity analysis of confocal microscopy images showed that LPS induced a significant increase in nuclear translocation of NF-κB by 6 h. In contrast, PAN-induced only small changes in the expression of TLRs 2-6 that included a persistent increase in TLRs 2 and 5, a transient increase in TLR-4, and a gradual increase in TLRs 3 and 6 between 1 and 6 h. Correspondingly, it did not alter pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in podocytes. However, PAN induced a low but significant increase in NF-κB nuclear translocation within one hour that remained unchanged up to 6 h. In summary, these novel findings show that LPS, a known TLR-4 ligand, induced the gene expression of multiple TLRs with maximum effect on the expression of TLR-1 suggesting a loss of receptor selectivity and induction of receptor interactions in podocytes. A comparable derangement of the podocyte cytoskeleton and significant increase in the nuclear translocation of NF-κB by PAN suggest that disparate but complementary mechanisms may contribute to the development of podocytopathy in MCD.

Journal Title

J Cell Commun Signal





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MeSH Keywords

Nephrosis, Lipoid; Podocytes; Lipopolysaccharides; Puromycin Aminonucleoside; Toll-Like Receptors


Innate Immunity; Cytokines; Minimal Change Disease; Glomerular filtration barrier