The atypical chemokine receptor 2 (ACKR2), also named D6, regulates local levels of inflammatory chemokines by internalization and degradation. To explore potential anti-inflammatory functions of ACKR2 in glomerulonephritis, we induced autologous nephrotoxic nephritis in C57/BL6 wild-type and Ackr2-deficient mice. Renal ACKR2 expression increased and localized to interstitial lymphatic endothelium during nephritis. At two weeks Ackr2(-/-)mice developed increased albuminuria and urea levels compared to wild-type mice. Histological analysis revealed increased structural damage in the glomerular and tubulointerstitial compartments within Ackr2(-/-) kidneys. This correlated with excessive renal leukocyte infiltration of CD4(+) T cells and mononuclear phagocytes with increased numbers in the tubulointerstitium but not glomeruli in knockout mice. Expression of inflammatory mediators and especially markers of fibrotic tissue remodeling were increased along with higher levels of ACKR2 inflammatory chemokine ligands like CCL2 in nephritic Ackr2(-/-) kidneys. In vitro, Ackr2 deficiency in TNF-stimulated tubulointerstitial tissue but not glomeruli increased chemokine levels. These results are in line with ACKR2 expression in interstitial lymphatic endothelial cells, which also assures efflux of activated leukocytes into regional lymph nodes. Consistently, nephritic Ackr2(-/-) mice showed reduced adaptive cellular immune responses indicated by decreased regional T-cell activation. However, this did not prevent aggravated injury in the kidneys of Ackr2(-/-) mice with nephrotoxic nephritis due to simultaneously increased tubulointerstitial chemokine levels, leukocyte infiltration and fibrosis. Thus, ACKR2 is important in limiting renal inflammation and fibrotic remodeling in progressive nephrotoxic nephritis. Hence, ACKR2 may be a potential target for therapeutic interventions in immune complex glomerulonephritis.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published