Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR) is a common congenital defect of the urinary tract that is usually discovered after a child develops a urinary tract infection. It is associated with reflux nephropathy, a renal lesion characterized by the presence of chronic tubulointersitial inflammation and fibrosis. Most patients are diagnosed with reflux nephropathy after one or more febrile urinary tract infections, suggesting a potential role for infection in its development. We have recently shown that the C3H mouse has a 100% incidence of VUR. Here, we evaluate the roles of VUR and uropathogenic Escherichia coli infection in the development of reflux nephropathy in the C3H mouse. We find that VUR in combination with sustained kidney infection is crucial to the development of reflux nephropathy, whereas sterile reflux alone fails to induce reflux nephropathy. A single bout of kidney infection without reflux fails to induce reflux nephropathy. The host immune response to infection was examined in two refluxing C3H substrains, HeN and HeJ. HeJ mice, which have a defect in innate immunity and bacterial clearance, demonstrate more significant renal inflammation and reflux nephropathy compared with HeN mice. These studies demonstrate the crucial synergy between VUR, sustained kidney infection and the host immune response in the development of reflux nephropathy in a mouse model of VUR.
- Received January 1, 2013.
- Accepted March 13, 2013.
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