Background Laminin α5β2γ1 (LM-521) is a major component of the GBM. Mutations in LAMB2 that prevent LM-521 synthesis and/or secretion cause Pierson syndrome, a rare congenital nephrotic syndrome with diffuse mesangial sclerosis and ocular and neurologic defects. Because the GBM is uniquely accessible to plasma, which permeates endothelial cell fenestrae, we hypothesized that intravenous delivery of LM-521 could replace the missing LM-521 in the GBM of Lamb2 mutant mice and restore glomerular permselectivity.
Methods We injected human LM-521 (hLM-521), a macromolecule of approximately 800 kD, into the retro-orbital sinus of Lamb2−/− pups daily. Deposition of hLM-521 into the GBM was investigated by fluorescence microscopy. We assayed the effects of hLM-521 on glomerular permselectivity by urinalysis and the effects on podocytes by desmin immunostaining and ultrastructural analysis of podocyte architecture.
Results Injected hLM-521 rapidly and stably accumulated in the GBM of all glomeruli. Super-resolution imaging showed that hLM-521 accumulated in the correct orientation in the GBM, primarily on the endothelial aspect. Treatment with hLM-521 greatly reduced the expression of the podocyte injury marker desmin and attenuated the foot process effacement observed in untreated pups. Moreover, treatment with hLM-521 delayed the onset of proteinuria but did not prevent nephrotic syndrome, perhaps due to its absence from the podocyte aspect of the GBM.
Conclusions These studies show that GBM composition and function can be altered in vivovia vascular delivery of even very large proteins, which may advance therapeutic options for patients with abnormal GBM composition, whether genetic or acquired.