Cyclosporine enhances the synthesis of selected extracellular matrix proteins by renal cells "in culture": Different cell responses and phenotype characterization

Gian Marco Ghiggeri, Paola Altieri, Roberta Oleggini, Federico Valenti, Fabrizio Ginevri, Francesco Perfumo, Rosanna Gusmano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis are 2 major side effects of protracted therapy with CsA in heart transplant patients and in nonrenal immunologic diseases. To investigate whether there is any cause-effect correlation between CsA and the synthesis of extracellular matrix in the kidney, we determined the amount and composition of collagens produced by various renal cells "in culture" upon exposure to increasing levels of CsA. The cellular models we used included primary cultures of both human and rat mesangial cells (hMC, rMC), human and rat renal fibroblasts (hFib, rFib), and human tubular epithelia as well as cell lines of rat renal fibroblasts (NRK49F) and of tubular epithelia (NRK52E). In the case of primary cell cultures, CsA induced a marked increment of total collagen synthesis. This was highest for renal fibroblasts (+330% hFib, +110% rFib), followed by rMC (+170%), hMC (+100%), and human tubular epithelia (+130%). At the highest dosage of CsA (5 ng/ml), this corresponded to a net increment in collagen III synthesis by both hMC and hFib (+150% and +300%), while collagen I and collagen IV were unaffected. On hMC, CsA also induced a maximal increase in a component with 70 kDa molecular mass, which was produced only in a negligible amount by these cells in standard conditions. This low molecular mass collagen was tentatively characterized by cyanogen-bromide digestion and fingerprint analysis as a novel molecule showing a peptide composition without comparable features for any reported collagen map. NRK49F and NRK52E cell lines were not affected by CsA. Taken together, these observations demonstrate that CsA is able to induce the synthesis of specific collagens, mainly of collagen III and of a 70-kDa component, by various renal cells in cultures. Since the same cells are the renal site of production of extracellular matrix in pathological conditions, we hypothesize that this effect is a relevant one in the pathogenesis of glomerulosclerosis/interstitial fibrosis during protracted therapies with CsA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1388
Number of pages7
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Immunology


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