Crystal retention capacity of cells in the human nephron: involvement of CD44 and its ligands hyaluronic acid and osteopontin in the transition of a crystal binding- into a nonadherent epithelium.

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

PubMedID: 12506143

Verhulst A, Asselman M, Persy VP, Schepers MS, Helbert MF, Verkoelen CF, De Broe ME. Crystal retention capacity of cells in the human nephron: involvement of CD44 and its ligands hyaluronic acid and osteopontin in the transition of a crystal binding- into a nonadherent epithelium. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003;14(1):107-15.
Nephrolithiasis requires formation of crystals followed by their retention and accumulation in the kidney. Crystal retention can be caused by the association of crystals with the epithelial cells lining the renal tubules. The present study investigated the interaction between calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) crystals and primary cultures of human proximal (PTC) and distal tubular/collecting duct cells (DTC). Both PTC and DTC were susceptible to crystal binding during the first days post-seeding (4.9 +/- 0.8 micro g COM/cm2), but DTC lost this affinity when the cultures developed into confluent monolayers with functional tight junctions (0.05 +/- 0.02 micro g COM/cm2). Confocal microscopy demonstrated the expression of the transmembrane receptor protein CD44 and its ligands osteopontin (OPN) and hyaluronic acid (HA) at the apical membrane of proliferating tubular cells; at confluence, CD44 was expressed at the basolateral membrane and OPN and HA were no longer detectable. In addition, a particle exclusion technique revealed that proliferating cells were surrounded by HA-rich pericellular matrices or "cell coats" extending several microns from the cell surface. Disintegration of these coats with hyaluronidase significantly decreased the cell surface affinity for crystals. Furthermore, CD44, OPN, and HA were also expressed in vivo at the luminal side of tubular cells in damaged kidneys. These results suggest (1) that the intact distal tubular epithelium of the human kidney does not bind crystals, and (2) that crystal retention in the human kidney may depend on the expression of CD44-, OPN-, and-HA rich cell coats by damaged distal tubular epithelium.