Mesangial cells from human and rat kidney were examined for sensitivity to killing by neutrophils. Cells from both species were sensitive to killing by phorbol myristate acetate-stimulated neutrophils. Catalase was highly protective while superoxide dismutase was less protective and a number of protease inhibitors were not protective. Strong protection was also observed with the iron chelators, deferoxamine and phenanthroline, and with the hydroxyl radical scavengers, dimethylthiourea and 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide. Pretreatment of the mesangial cells with deferoxamine followed by washing also provided protection. Mesangial cells were also killed by reagent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) but were much less sensitive to injury by direct application of proteolytic enzymes. The ability of H2O2 to injure mesangial cells was prevented by pre-incubation of the H2O2 with human leukocyte myeloperoxidase. These data suggest that killing is due primarily to the generation of H2O2 by the stimulated neutrophils and its further reduction in an iron-catalyzed reaction. The hydroxyl radical may be the reduction product that actually mediates lethal injury but lack of scavenger specificity prevents definitively concluding this. Mesangial cell killing by activated neutrophils could be significantly inhibited by monoclonal antibodies to CD11/CD18 molecules, suggesting that close contact between the target and effector cells is required for cytotoxicity. Although qualitatively similar to endothelial cells, the mesangial cells appeared to be quantitatively more oxidant sensitive than previously examined human and rat endothelial cells. Taken together, these data show that mesangeal cells from rat and human are sensitive to leukocyte-induced injury and that injury results via an oxidant pathway. Mesangial cell injury is noted in a variety of glomerulopathies where oxidant-mediate mechanisms may play a role in the pathogenic process.
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