Functional megalin is expressed in renal cysts in a mouse model of adult polycystic kidney disease

Marlene L. Nielsen*, Mia C. Mundt, Dorte L. Lildballe, Maria Rasmussen, Lone Sunde, Vicente E. Torres, Peter C. Harris, Henrik Birn


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Background: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is characterized by the progressive growth of cysts and a decline of renal function. The clinical feasibility of the number of potential disease-modifying drugs is limited by systemic adverse effects. We hypothesize that megalin, a multiligand endocytic receptor expressed in the proximal tubule, may be used to facilitate drug uptake into cysts, thereby allowing for greater efficacy and fewer side effects. Methods: The cyst expression of various tubular markers, including megalin and aquaporin 2 (AQP2), was analysed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) of kidney sections from the ADPKD mouse model (PKD1RC/RC) at different post-natal ages. The endocytic function of megalin in cysts was examined by IHC of kidney tissue from mice injected with the megalin ligand aprotinin. Results: Cyst lining epithelial cells expressing megalin were observed at all ages; however, the proportion decreased with age. Concomitantly, an increasing proportion of cysts revealed expression of AQP2, partial expression of megalin and/or AQP2 or no expression of the examined markers. Endocytic uptake of aprotinin was evident in megalin-positive cysts, but only in those that remained connected to the renal tubular system. Conclusions: Megalin-expressing cysts were observed at all ages, but the proportion decreased with age, possibly due to a switch in tubular origin, a merging of cysts of different tubular origin and/or a change in the expression pattern of cyst lining cells. Megalin expressed in cysts was functional, suggesting that megalin-mediated endocytosis is a potential mechanism for drug targeting in ADPKD if initiated early in the disease.

TidsskriftClinical Kidney Journal
Udgave nummer11
Sider (fra-til)2420-2427
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - 1 nov. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Vanførefonden, cand. jur. Torkil Steenbeck's Grant, Independent order of Odd Fellows nr. 73 Svend Fælding, Karen Elise Jensen's Fund, O.P. Nielsen, Danish Kidney Association, Danish Society of Nephrology, Fund of 1870 and Central Denmark Region. None of the funders played a role in the collection, analysis or interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


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