Pediatric Nephrology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 287–293 | Cite as

FOXP3+ T cells are present in kidney biopsy samples in children with tubulointerstitial nephritis and uveitis syndrome

  • Sari H. Rytkönen
  • Petri Kulmala
  • Helena Autio-Harmainen
  • Pekka Arikoski
  • Kira Endén
  • Janne Kataja
  • Tuomo Karttunen
  • Matti Nuutinen
  • Timo Jahnukainen
Original Article



Tubulointerstitial nephritis (TIN) is an inflammatory disease of unknown pathogenesis. To evaluate a possible role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the pathophysiology of TIN with (TINU) and without uveitis, we investigated the presence and quantity of FOXP3+ T regulatory lymphocytes in diagnostic kidney biopsies from pediatric patients.


A total of 33 patients (14 TIN and 19 TINU) were enrolled. The quantity of CD4+, FOXP3+ and double-positive T cells in formalin-fixed kidney biopsies was determined using double label immunohistochemistry with anti-human CD4 and FOXP3 antibodies.


FOXP3 staining was successful in all 33 patients. In patients with chronic uveitis, the density of FOXP3+ cells was significantly lower (p = 0.046) than in TIN patients without uveitis or with uveitis lasting <3 months. CD4+ staining was successful in 23 patients. The density of all lymphocytes (CD4+, CD4+FOXP3+ and FOXP3+ cells) was significantly lower (p = 0.023) in patients with chronic uveitis than in other patients.


FOXP3+ T cells are present in kidney biopsy samples from TIN and TINU patients. In patients with chronic uveitis, the density of FOXP3+ T cells is significantly lower than in other patients, suggesting a different pathomechanism for these clinical conditions.


Tubulointerstitial nephritis Regulatory T cell Child Biopsy Uveitis FOXP3 



We would like to thank Mrs Heli Ylisuutari for her excellent contribution to the preparation and execution of the immunohistochemical stainings.


This study has been supported by the Foundation for Pediatric Research, Finnish Medical Foundation, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, and the Alma and K.A. Snellman Foundation, Oulu, Finland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Statement of human rights

The study adhered to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki and the study protocol was approved by the ethics committee. All participants and/or their parents gave their informed consent to the study.


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Copyright information

© IPNA 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PEDEGO Research Unit and Medical Research Center (MRC) OuluUniversity of Oulu and Oulu University HospitalOuluFinland
  2. 2.Biomedicine Research Unit, Clinical Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  3. 3.Cancer and Translational Medicine Research UnitUniversity of Oulu, and Department of Pathology, Oulu University HospitalOuluFinland
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Eastern-Finland and Kuopio University HospitalKuopioFinland
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsTampere University HospitalTampereFinland
  6. 6.Department of Pediatric Nephrology and Transplantation, Children’s HospitalHelsinki University Hospital and Helsinki UniversityHelsinkiFinland
  7. 7.Pediatric and Adolescent MedicineTurku University HospitalTurkuFinland

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