In clinical practice, there is a lack of markers for the non-invasive diagnosis and follow-up of kidney disease. Exosomes are membrane vesicles, which are secreted from their cells of origin into surrounding body fluids and contain proteins and mRNA which are protected from digestive enzymes by a cell membrane.
Toxic podocyte damage was induced by puromycin aminonucleoside in rats (PAN). Urinary exosomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation at different time points during the disease. Exosomal mRNA was isolated, amplified, and the mRNA species were globally assessed by gene array analysis. Tissue-specific gene and protein expression was assessed by RT-qPCR analysis and immunohistochemistry.
Gene array analysis of mRNA isolated from urinary exosomes revealed cystatin C mRNA as one of the most highly regulated genes. Its gene expression increased 7.5-fold by day 5 and remained high with a 1.9-fold increase until day 10. This was paralleled by a 2-fold increase in cystatin C mRNA expression in the renal cortex. Protein expression in the kidneys also dramatically increased with de novo expression of cystatin C in glomerular podocytes in parts of the proximal tubule and the renal medulla. Urinary excretion of cystatin C increased approximately 2-fold.