We previously reported that one of the main components of the sclerotic material in human glomerular diseases was type IV collagen. In this study we examined the contribution of increased synthesis to this process at the gene expression level. Sufficient material has not been available to study type IV collagen synthesis by normal or sclerotic glomeruli in humans. We took advantage of the availability of nephrectomy specimens from patients with renal carcinoma, and of the observation that approximately 50% of these patients develop varying degrees of glomerulosclerosis. We microdissected glomeruli from 10 patients and analyzed them using in situ reverse transcription coupled with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses (in situ RT-PCR). alpha 2IV collagen mRNA, after reverse transcription into cDNA, was detected in all patients and appeared to be increased in those with glomerulosclerosis (n = 5). A competitive PCR assay was developed to quantitate this change. There was an average 3.7-fold increase in glomerular type IV collagen cDNA in patients with significant sclerosis. This change was not due to an increased number of glomerular cells. Thus, glomerulosclerosis in humans is associated with an elevation of glomerular type IV collagen gene expression, suggesting that increased synthesis of type IV collagen may represent one component of this process.

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