Polarized expression of Tamm-Horsfall protein by renal tubular epithelial cells activates human granulocytes

B. Kreft*, W. J. Jabs, T. Laskay, M. Klinger, W. Solbach, S. Kumar, G. Van Zandbergen

*Corresponding author for this work
37 Citations (Scopus)


In renal bacterial infections granulocytes are of major importance in the primary immune defense against invading pathogens. However, the mechanisms of granulocytic activation in renal interstitial invasion have not been clarified. Renal tubular epithelial cell mechanisms inducing granulocytic activation and bacterial killing may include tubular cell expression of Tamm-Horsfall protein (THP), a urinary protein that is known to enhance cytokine expression in monocytes. We studied the role of THP in granulocytic activation. A strong binding of THP to human granulocytes was demonstrated by fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis. Urinary THP and supernatants of THP-expressing cultured tubular epithelial cells (MDCK) enhanced interleukin-8 (IL-8) expression by human granulocytes. Renal tubular cells growing polarized on polycarbonate membranes were used to study apical versus basal THP expression. By electron microscopy THP immunoreactivity was exclusively found on the apical surfaces of tubular cells and was absent on the basolateral cell membrane. In the apical cell culture compartment we found significantly more stimulatory activity for granulocytic IL-8 expression. CD62L, a selectin less expressed in activated granulocytes, was decreased in granulocytes incubated with urinary THP and in supernatants of THP-producing renal tubular cells but not in supernatants from THP-negative cells. Again, the effect on CD62L expression was found only in apical culture media and was absent in the basal compartment. In summary our data give evidence that renal tubular cell THP expression may be relevant in kidney diseases since THP is a potent activator of human granulocytes. The regulation of apical versus basal THP expression and release in vivo may be crucial in the induction of the inflammatory response, e.g., in bacterial renal diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2650-2656
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 29.04.2002

Research Areas and Centers

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


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