Autoantibodies from patients with kidney allograft vasculopathy stimulate a proinflammatory switch in endothelial cells and monocytes mediated via GPCR-directed PAR1-TNF-α signaling

Guido Moll*, Christian Luecht, Michael Adu Gyamfi, Dennyson L.M. da Fonseca, Pinchao Wang, Hongfan Zhao, Zexian Gong, Lei Chen, Muhamad Imtiaz Ashraf, Harald Heidecke, Alexander Maximilian Hackel, Duska Dragun, Klemens Budde, Olaf Penack, Gabriela Riemekasten, Otávio Cabral-Marques, Janusz Witowski, Rusan Catar*

*Corresponding author for this work


Non-HLA-directed regulatory autoantibodies (RABs) are known to target G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and thereby contribute to kidney transplant vasculopathy and failure. However, the detailed underlying signaling mechanisms in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMECs) and immune cells need to be clarified in more detail. In this study, we compared the immune stimulatory effects and concomitant intracellular and extracellular signaling mechanisms of immunoglobulin G (IgG)-fractions from kidney transplant patients with allograft vasculopathy (KTx-IgG), to that from patients without vasculopathy, or matched healthy controls (Con-IgG). We found that KTx-IgG from patients with vasculopathy, but not KTx-IgG from patients without vasculopathy or Con-IgG, elicits HMEC activation and subsequent upregulation and secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) from HMECs, which was amplified in the presence of the protease-activated thrombin receptor 1 (PAR1) activator thrombin, but could be omitted by selectively blocking the PAR1 receptor. The amount and activity of the TNF-α secreted by HMECs stimulated with KTx-IgG from patients with vasculopathy was sufficient to induce subsequent THP-1 monocytic cell activation. Furthermore, AP-1/c-FOS, was identified as crucial transcription factor complex controlling the KTx-IgG-induced endothelial TNF-α synthesis, and mircoRNA-let-7f-5p as a regulatory element in modulating the underlying signaling cascade. In conclusion, exposure of HMECs to KTx-IgG from patients with allograft vasculopathy, but not KTx-IgG from patients without vasculopathy or healthy Con-IgG, triggers signaling through the PAR1-AP-1/c-FOS-miRNA-let7-axis, to control TNF-α gene transcription and TNF-α-induced monocyte activation. These observations offer a greater mechanistic understanding of endothelial cells and subsequent immune cell activation in the clinical setting of transplant vasculopathy that can eventually lead to transplant failure, irrespective of alloantigen-directed responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1289744
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-18 Rheumatology

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