Chimerism More Common in Kidneys of Lupus Patients

Some chimeric cells are T cells, researchers find

FRIDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Chimerism, or the presence of cells from one person in another person, occurs more often in the kidneys of patients with lupus nephritis than in normal kidneys, with some of the chimeric cells consisting of T cells, according to a study in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Idske C.L. Kremer Hovinga, M.Sc., and colleagues from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, examined chimerism in renal biopsy samples from 49 women with lupus nephritis and 51 normal kidney autopsy specimens using in situ hybridization targeting the Y chromosome.

The researchers found significantly more cells positive for the Y chromosome in women with lupus nephritis (27 patients versus 13 controls). Staining with markers for CD3 and CD34 in five lupus cases showed that some of these cells were T cells. While chimeric cells are thought to be due mostly to pregnancy-related transfer of cells from the fetus to the mother, no association with pregnancy was seen in the study. Not all patients with chimeric cells had been pregnant, and some of those who had been pregnant only had daughters.

"Chimeric cells are present significantly more often in kidneys with lupus nephritis than in normal kidneys, and some of these chimeric cells are T cells," the authors conclude. "This finding is interesting in light of experimental models demonstrating that lupus nephritis is initiated by chimeric T cells."

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