Electron microscopy study of genesis and dynamics of immunodeposition in IgMk-IgG cryoglobulin-induced glomerulonephritis in mice

Alessandro Fornasieri, Sara Tazzari, Min Li, Silvia Armelloni, Laura Torri Tarelli, Adalberto Sessa, Giuseppe D'Amico

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Cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis is particularly frequent in type II mixed IgMk-IgG cryoglobulinemia. The typical form is a membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis with a particular monocyte infiltration. In the most severe cases, there is occlusion of the capillary lumina by the same immunoglobulin constituents of the cryoprecipitate. While it is generally accepted that the 'hyaline thrombi' are endoluminal aggregates of IgG-IgM immune complexes, probably favored by high endocapillary concentration of cryoglobulins, the modality of generation has not been studied. To study the dynamic formation of such 'thrombi,' we reproduced an experimental model of cryoglobulinemic glomerulonephritis in mice by injecting them twice a day for 3 days with 4 mg human IgMk-IgG cyroglobulins previously solubilized at 37°C. The dynamic formation of immunodeposits was studied by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. After 1 day, only mesangial deposits were found; after 3 days, in addition to mesangial deposition, all the capillary lumina were occluded by huge electron-dense bodies. To look for and quantify the contracts between such 'thrombi' and mesangial or subendothelial deposits, we obtained serial, ultrathin, 0.5-μm sections that allowed us to reconstruct the whole glomerular tuft. Within each serial section, there was continuity between hyaline thrombi and mesangial or subendothelial deposits ranging from 80% to 85% of the capillary loops. The percentage was 100% for two adjacent serial sections. In conclusion, our data demonstrate directly for the first time that hyaline thrombi follow mesangial deposits. The high percentage of contacts between thrombi and mesangial or subendothelial deposits suggests that they result from in situ build-up of true huge endoluminal immunodeposits after saturation of the clearance capacity of the mesangium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998


  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Experimental nephritis
  • Glomerular immunodeposits
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Rheumatoid factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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