The mechanisms underlying immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN), the most common chronic form of primary glomerulonephritis, remain poorly understood. Streptococcus mutans, a Gram-positive facultatively anaerobic oral bacterium, is a common cause of dental caries. In previous studies, S. mutans isolates that express Cnm protein on their cell surface were frequently detected in IgAN patients. In the present study, inoculation of Cnm-positive S. mutans in the oral cavities of 2-week-old specific-pathogen free Sprague–Dawley rats fed a high-sucrose diet for 32 weeks produced severe dental caries in all rats. Immunohistochemical analyses of the kidneys using IgA- and complement C3-specific antibodies revealed positive staining in the mesangial region. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a wide distribution of electron dense deposits in the mesangial region and periodic acid-Schiff staining demonstrated prominent proliferation of mesangial cells and mesangial matrix. These results suggest that IgAN-like glomerulonephritis was induced in rats with severe dental caries by Cnm-positive S. mutans.
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