Acquired renal scarring occurs in a subset of patients following febrile urinary tract infections and is associated with hypertension, proteinuria, and chronic kidney disease. Limited knowledge of histopathology, immune cell recruitment and gene expression changes during pyelonephritis restricts the development of therapies to limit renal scarring. Here, we address this knowledge gap using immunocompetent mice with vesicoureteral reflux. Transurethral inoculation of uropathogenic Escherichia coli in C3H/HeOuJ mice leads to renal mucosal injury, tubulointerstitial nephritis, and cortical fibrosis. The extent of fibrosis correlates most significantly with inflammation at 7 and 28 days post infection. The recruitment of neutrophils and inflammatory macrophages to infected kidneys is proportional to renal bacterial burden. Transcriptome analysis reveals molecular signatures associated with renal ischemia-reperfusion injury, immune cell chemotaxis, and leukocyte activation. This murine model recapitulates the cardinal histopathologic features observed in humans with acquired renal scarring following pyelonephritis. The integration of histopathology, quantification of cellular immune influx, and unbiased transcriptional profiling begins to define potential mechanisms of tissue injury during pyelonephritis in the context of an intact immune response. The clear relationship between inflammatory cell recruitment and fibrosis supports the hypothesis that acquired renal scarring arises as a consequence of excessive host inflammation and suggests that immunomodulatory therapies should be investigated to reduce renal scarring in patients with pyelonephritis.
- urinary tract infection
- vesicoureteral reflux
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology