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The significance of caveolae in the glomeruli in glomerular disease
  1. Takahito Moriyama,
  2. Yuki Tsuruta,
  3. Ari Shimizu,
  4. Mitsuyo Itabashi,
  5. Takashi Takei,
  6. Shigeru Horita,
  7. Keiko Uchida,
  8. Kosaku Nitta
  1. Department of Medicine, Kidney Center, Tokyo Women's Medical University, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Takahito Moriyama, Department of Medicine, Kidney Center, Tokyo Women's Medical University, 8-1, Kawada-cho, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-8666, Japan; takamori{at}


Aims The aim of this study was to demonstrate expression of cell membrane invagination ‘caveolae’ in glomeruli and to correlate this with functional and structural characteristics of the human glomerular diseases.

Methods The expression of caveolin-1 (Cav-1), which is the main component of caveolae, was examined in the glomeruli, and the relationship between Cav-1 expression and pathological and clinical findings was determined in 99 patients with glomerular disease and in 50 renal transplantation donors as controls.

Results Cav-1 was expressed very weakly in the controls, and the area of Cav-1 expression relative to the total glomerular area was 0.57±0.65%. However, the area of Cav-1 expression was significantly larger in each glomerular disease (IgA nephropathy, 1.05±1.36%, p<0.05; crescent glomerulonephritis, 1.86±1.19%, p<0.001; minimal change disease, 2.38±1.24%, p<0.001; focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, 2.88±2.05%, p<0.01; membranous nephritis, 4.27±2.95%, p<0.001; membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, 4.49±3.15%, p<0.001; and diabetic nephropathy, 2.45±1.52%, p<0.001; compared with the controls. Cav-1 expression was significantly decreased in glomerular disease treated with steroids. Co-localisation of Cav-1 and the endothelial marker ‘pathologische anatomie leiden-endothelium’ was prominent in an immunofluorescence study, and caveolae on the glomerular endothelial cells were observed in electron microscopy.

Conclusions The expression of Cav-1 was significantly increased in the glomeruli of patients with glomerular disease, and it was related to urinary albumin excretion. Cav-1 expression and caveolae were observed in glomerular endothelial cells. It is hypothesised that they play a role in the recovery phase of capillary injury or endocytosis of albumin into endothelial cells. Basic research should be performed to elucidate the role played by Cav-1 and caveolae.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.