Glomerular expression of the major rate-limiting enzymes for prostanoid synthesis, cyclooxygenase isoforms (COX-1 and COX-2) and cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), was investigated in anti-Thy-1 nephritis in rats. Ribonuclease protection assay demonstrated minimal COX-1 mRNA expression in glomeruli of control rat kidneys and a gradual increase of expression from day 1 to day 10 after administration of monoclonal anti-rat Thy-1 antibody. On the other hand, COX-2 mRNA expression, also minimal in the normal glomeruli, was enhanced in a biphasic pattern with two peaks at 1 h and day 10. Expression of cPLA2 mRNA, which was undetectable in normal glomeruli, was induced on day 1 and increased gradually in a pattern similar to that of COX-1 mRNA expression. Immunofluorescence microscopy, using antibodies against COX isoforms, showed that both COX-1 and COX-2 were negligible or faintly detectable in the glomeruli of control rat kidneys. In contrast, the immunofluorescence for COX-1 was intensified on days 4 and 10 along the glomerular capillary walls probably in glomerular epithelial and/or endothelial cells, whereas COX-2 staining was exclusively enhanced in the glomerular epithelial cells at 1 h and day 10 during the course of anti-Thy-1 nephritis. These findings indicate that prostanoids generated through induction of COX-1, COX-2, and cPLA2 are implicated in the mediation of the mesangial cell injury model. In particular, the upregulation of COX-2 expression in glomerular epithelial cells in the selective mesangial cell injury model suggests an intercellular interaction between mesangial cells, and glomerular epithelial cells.