Escola Paulista de Medicina
Postgraduate Program in Nephrology

Kidney-derived c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells contribute to podocyte recovery in a model of acute proteinuria.


Rangel EB1,2,3, Gomes SA4,5, Kanashiro-Takeuchi R4,6, Saltzman RG4, Wei C7, Ruiz P8, Reiser J7, Hare JM9,10,11.

Kidney-derived c-kit+ cells exhibit progenitor/stem cell properties and can regenerate epithelial tubular cells following ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats. We therefore investigated whether c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells contribute to podocyte repair in a rat model of acute proteinuria induced by puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN), the experimental prototype of human minimal change disease and early stages of focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis. We found that c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells accelerated kidney recovery by improving foot process effacement (foot process width was lower in c-kit group vs saline treated animals, P = 0.03). In particular, these cells engrafted in small quantity into tubules, vessels, and glomeruli, where they occasionally differentiated into podocyte-like cells. This effect was related to an up regulation of α-Actinin-4 and mTORC2-Rictor pathway. Activation of autophagy by c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells also contributed to kidney regeneration and intracellular homeostasis (autophagosomes and autophagolysosomes number and LC3A/B-I and LC3A/B-II expression were higher in the c-kit group vs saline treated animals, P = 0.0031 and P = 0.0009, respectively). Taken together, our findings suggest that kidney-derived c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells exert reparative effects on glomerular disease processes through paracrine effects, to a lesser extent differentiation into podocyte-like cells and contribution to maintenance of podocyte cytoskeleton after injury. These findings have clinical implications for cell therapy of glomerular pathobiology.

PMID: 30283057 PMCID: PMC6170432 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-33082-x
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