Osteopontin is a bone protein also expressed in other tissues. Increased osteopontin is thought to be associated with tissue inflammation. We used immunocytochemical analyses and polymerase chain reaction amplification of mRNA to examine osteopontin expression and regulation in unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) in rats, a model of inflammatory kidney disease. In the obstructed kidney, osteopontin mRNA and protein were significantly increased. The increase reached 4-fold after 1 day of UUO and persisted at this level for the 5-day duration of UUO. Immunocytochemical analyses showed increased osteopontin protein in tubular cells of the obstructed kidney cortex from days 1 through 5 of UUO. No such significant increase was apparent in the glomerulus or interstitium. Increased osteopontin mRNA and protein likewise occurred in the tubular cells of the obstructed kidney of rats that had undergone whole-body irradiation to eliminate macrophage infiltration into the experimental kidney. Purified osteopontin was found to be a chemoattractant for macrophages isolated from the rat peritoneum. Enalapril treatment, which decreases macrophage infiltration of the obstructed kidney, had no effect on the increase in osteopontin mRNA but significantly attenuated the increase in protein in tubular cells. Western blot analysis of whole cortical homogenates revealed that the osteopontin antibody recognized one protein of 67 kD. The amount of this protein was substantially decreased in kidney homogenates obtained from enalapril-treated compared to untreated animals. Increased osteopontin synthesis may, therefore, contribute in part to the inflammatory response that characterizes obstructive nephropathy.
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