Background/Aims: To verify whether human IgG induces proinflammatory activation of human proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) independent of the metabolic overload of protein reabsorption. Methods: Cultured PTEC were incubated with normal IgG, IgG from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, albumin or transferrin. IL-6 secretion and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) activation (dual-phosphorylated ERK) were measured by ELISA and by Western blotting of PTEC extracts, respectively; renal biopsy specimens from patients with IgG and non-IgG proteinuria were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization to detect ERK-P and IL-6. Results: Normal and SLE IgG, but not albumin or transferrin, induced an early significant increase in IL-6 secretion by PTECs. Also ERK activation was found after 1-hour incubation of PTEC with IgG, but not with control medium and albumin-treated PTEC. Activated ERK and IL-6 were found to colocalize in tubular cells in the kidney specimens of patients with IgG proteinuria only. Conclusion: IgG-dependent early activation of ERK and increased IL-6 secretion in PTEC suggest that IgG filtered during nonselective proteinuria may play a specific role in tubulointerstitial disease. Such a role could be particularly relevant in diseases associated with abnormal IgG pool compositions, such as SLE. Preliminary results on human renal biopsy specimens suggest that our in vitro observations may also be relevant in vivo.