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Concept: Glomerulus


Abatacept (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4-immunoglobulin fusion protein [CTLA-4-Ig]) is a costimulatory inhibitor that targets B7-1 (CD80). The present report describes five patients who had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) (four with recurrent FSGS after transplantation and one with primary FSGS) and proteinuria with B7-1 immunostaining of podocytes in kidney-biopsy specimens. Abatacept induced partial or complete remissions of proteinuria in these patients, suggesting that B7-1 may be a useful biomarker for the treatment of some glomerulopathies. Our data indicate that abatacept may stabilize β1-integrin activation in podocytes and reduce proteinuria in patients with B7-1-positive glomerular disease.

Concepts: Protein, Glomerulus, Nephron, Nephrotic syndrome, Proteinuria, Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, Glomerulosclerosis, CTLA-4


Alport syndrome is a hereditary glomerulopathy with proteinuria and nephritis caused by defects in genes encoding type IV collagen in the glomerular basement membrane. All male and most female patients develop end-stage renal disease. Effective treatment to stop or decelerate the progression of proteinuria and nephritis is still under investigation. Here we showed that combination treatment of mild electrical stress (MES) and heat stress (HS) ameliorated progressive proteinuria and renal injury in mouse model of Alport syndrome. The expressions of kidney injury marker neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β were suppressed by MES+HS treatment. The anti-proteinuric effect of MES+HS treatment is mediated by podocytic activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-OH kinase (PI3K)-Akt and heat shock protein 72 (Hsp72)-dependent pathways in vitro and in vivo. The anti-inflammatory effect of MES+HS was mediated by glomerular activation of c-jun NH(2)-terminal kinase ½ (JNK1/2) and p38-dependent pathways ex vivo. Collectively, our studies show that combination treatment of MES and HS confers anti-proteinuric and anti-inflammatory effects on Alport mice likely through the activation of multiple signaling pathways including PI3K-Akt, Hsp72, JNK1/2, and p38 pathways, providing a novel candidate therapeutic strategy to decelerate the progression of patho-phenotypes in Alport syndrome.

Concepts: Kidney, Nephrology, Collagen, Glomerulus, In vivo, In vitro, Glomerulonephritis, Alport syndrome


To assess the risk of medication errors in subjects with renal impairment (defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) ≤40 ml/min/1.73 m(2)) and the effectiveness of automatic eGFR ≤40-alerts relayed to community pharmacists.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Nephrology, Dialysis, Glomerulus, Renal function


Rac1, a Rho family member, is ubiquitously expressed and participates in various biological processes. Rac1 expression is induced early in podocyte injury, but its role in repair is unclear. To investigate the role of Rac1 expression in podocytes under pathological conditions, we used podocyte-specific Rac1 conditional knock-out (cKO) mice administered adriamycin (ADR), which causes nephrosis and glomerulosclerosis. Larger areas of detached podocytes, more adhesion of the GBM to Bowman’s capsule, and a higher ratio of sclerotic glomeruli were observed in Rac1 cKO mice than in control mice, whereas no differences were observed in glomerular podocyte numbers in both groups after ADR treatment. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which regulates the cell size, was more strongly suppressed in the podocytes of Rac1 cKO mice than in those of control mice under pathological conditions. In accordance with this result, the volumes of podocytes in Rac1 cKO mice were significantly reduced compared with those of control mice. Experiments using in vitro ADR-administered Rac1 knockdown podocytes also supported that a reduction in Rac1 suppressed mTOR activity in injured podocytes. Taken together, these data indicate that Rac1-associated mTOR activation in podocytes plays an important role in preventing the kidneys from developing glomerulosclerosis.

Concepts: Glomerulus, Bowman's capsule, Nephron, Metanephric blastema, Kidney anatomy, Podocyte, Proximal convoluted tubule, Renal corpuscle


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) hold great promise for understanding kidney development and disease. We reproducibly differentiated three genetically distinct wild-type hPSC lines to kidney precursors that underwent rudimentary morphogenesis in vitro. They expressed nephron and collecting duct lineage marker genes, several of which are mutated in human kidney disease. Lentiviral-transduced hPSCs expressing reporter genes differentiated similarly to controls in vitro. Kidney progenitors were subcutaneously implanted into immunodeficient mice. By 12 weeks, they formed organ-like masses detectable by bioluminescence imaging. Implants included perfused glomeruli containing human capillaries, podocytes with regions of mature basement membrane, and mesangial cells. After intravenous injection of fluorescent low-molecular-weight dextran, signal was detected in tubules, demonstrating uptake from glomerular filtrate. Thus, we have developed methods to trace hPSC-derived kidney precursors that formed functioning nephrons in vivo. These advances beyond in vitro culture are critical steps toward using hPSCs to model and treat kidney diseases.

Concepts: Kidney, Glomerulus, Bowman's capsule, Nephron, Distal convoluted tubule, Kidney anatomy, Podocyte, Renal corpuscle


Nephrons comprise a blood filter and an epithelial tubule that is subdivided into proximal and distal segments, but what directs this patterning during kidney organogenesis is not well understood. Using zebrafish, we found that the HNF1β paralogues hnf1ba and hnf1bb, which encode homeodomain transcription factors, are essential for normal segmentation of nephrons. Embryos deficient in hnf1ba and hnf1bb did not express proximal and distal segment markers, yet still developed an epithelial tubule. Initiating hnf1ba/b expression required Pax2a and Pax8, but hnf1ba/b-deficient embryos did not exhibit the expected downregulation of pax2a and pax8 at later stages of development, suggesting complex regulatory loops involving these molecules. Embryos deficient in hnf1ba/b also did not express the irx3b transcription factor, which is responsible for differentiation of the first distal tubule segment. Reciprocally, embryos deficient in irx3b exhibited downregulation of hnf1ba/b transcripts in the distal early segment, suggesting a segment-specific regulatory circuit. Deficiency of hnf1ba/b also led to ectopic expansion of podocytes into the proximal tubule domain. Epistasis experiments showed that the formation of podocytes required wt1a, which encodes the Wilms' tumor suppressor-1 transcription factor, and rbpj, which encodes a mediator of canonical Notch signaling, downstream or parallel to hnf1ba/b. Taken together, these results suggest that Hnf1β factors are essential for normal segmentation of nephrons during kidney organogenesis.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Developmental biology, Glomerulus, Bowman's capsule, Nephron, Transcription factor, Distal convoluted tubule


Calcium, phosphate, and magnesium are multivalent cations that are important for many biologic and cellular functions. The kidneys play a central role in the homeostasis of these ions. Gastrointestinal absorption is balanced by renal excretion. When body stores of these ions decline significantly, gastrointestinal absorption, bone resorption, and renal tubular reabsorption increase to normalize their levels. Renal regulation of these ions occurs through glomerular filtration and tubular reabsorption and/or secretion and is therefore an important determinant of plasma ion concentration. Under physiologic conditions, the whole body balance of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium is maintained by fine adjustments of urinary excretion to equal the net intake. This review discusses how calcium, phosphate, and magnesium are handled by the kidneys.

Concepts: Kidney, Nephrology, Metabolism, Physiology, Glomerulus, Renal physiology, Ion, Potassium


Nephron number (Nglom) and size (Vglom) are correlated with risk for chronic cardiovascular and kidney disease and may be predictive of renal allograft viability. Unfortunately, there are no techniques to assess Nglom and Vglom in intact kidneys. This work demonstrates the use of cationized ferritin (CF) as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent to measure Nglom and Vglom in functioning human kidneys donated to science. The kidneys were obtained from patients with varying levels of cardiovascular and renal disease. CF was intravenously injected into three functioning human kidneys. A fourth naive control kidney was perfused with saline. After fixation, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy confirmed binding of CF to the glomerulus. The intact kidneys were imaged with 3D MRI and CF-labeled glomeruli appeared as punctate spots. Custom software identified, counted, and measured the apparent volumes of CF-labeled glomeruli, with an ~6% false positive rate. These measurements were comparable to stereological estimates. The MRI-based technique yielded a novel whole-kidney distribution of glomerular volumes. Histopathology demonstrated that the distribution of CF-labeled glomeruli may be predictive of glomerular and vascular disease. Variations in CF distribution were quantified using spectral analyses and may be a useful marker of glomerular sclerosis. This is the first report of direct measurement of glomerular number and volume in intact human kidneys.

Concepts: Kidney, Glomerulus, Nephron, Measurement, Medical imaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Contrast medium, Renal corpuscle


Unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO), a widely used model of chronic kidney disease and congenital obstructive uropathy, causes proximal tubular injury and formation of atubular glomeruli. Because transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is a central regulator of renal injury, neonatal and adult mice were subjected to complete UUO under general anesthesia and treated with vehicle or ALK5 TGF-β1 receptor inhibitor (IN-1130, 30 mg/kg/d). After 14 days, glomerulotubular integrity and proximal tubular mass were determined by morphometry of Lotus tetragonolobus lectin distribution, and the fraction of atubular glomeruli was determined by serial section analysis of randomly selected individual glomeruli. Glomerular area, macrophage infiltration, fibronectin distribution and interstitial collagen were measured by morphometry. Compared to placebo, inhibition of TGF-β1 by IN-1130 decreased apoptosis and formation of atubular glomeruli, prevented parenchymal loss, increased glomerular area and glomerulotubular integrity, and increased proximal tubule fraction of the adult obstructed kidney parenchyma from 17% to 30% (p<0.05, respectively). IN-1130 decreased macrophage infiltration and fibronectin and collagen deposition in the adult obstructed kidney by ~50% (p<0.05, respectively). In contrast to these salutary effects in the adult, IN-1130 caused widespread necrosis in obstructed neonatal kidneys. We conclude that whereas IN-1130 reduces obstructive injury in adult kidneys through preservation of glomerulotubular integrity and proximal tubular mass, TGF-β1 inhibition aggravates obstructive injury in neonates. These results indicate that while caution is necessary in treating congenital uropathies, ALK5 inhibitors may prevent nephron loss due to adult kidney disease.

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Glomerulus, Bowman's capsule, Nephron, Renal cortex, Distal convoluted tubule, Renal corpuscle


Background and aim. In patients with chronic hepatitis C receiving Peg interferon/ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) who do not achieve ≥ 2log-reduction in HCV-RNA at week 12 (null responders, NR) and in those with ≥ 2log-decrease but detectable at week 24 (partial responders, PR) the probability to achieve the sustained virological response (SVR) is almost null. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of individualized schedule of progressively increased RBV doses in the setting of PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. Material and methods. PR or NR to PEG-IFN/RBV instead of discontinuing treatment were enrolled to receive increasing doses of RBV until a target theoretical concentration ([tRBV]) of ≥ 15 μmol/L (by pharmacokinetic formula based on glomerular filtration rate). HCV-RNA was assessed every 4 weeks and, if detectable, RBV dose was gradually increased until negativization. Twelve weeks later, patients with detectable HCV-RNA discontinued therapy while those with undetectable HCV-RNA continued for further 48 weeks. Results. Twenty genotype-1 patients (8 NR and 12 PR) were enrolled. After 12 weeks 9 (45%) were still HCV-RNA positive and were discontinued, while remaining 11 had undetectable HCV-RNA. One stopped treatment for side effects. Ten completed treatment. Five (all PR) achieved SVR. Side effects incidence was similar to that observed during PEG-IFN/RBV. Conclusions. In conclusion, RBV high doses, according to individualized schedule, increase SVR in PR on a similar extent to that of triple therapy but without increase of side effects. Such treatment should be considered in PR with no access or intolerant to protease inhibitors (PI).

Concepts: Pharmacology, Glomerulus, Renal function, Hepatitis, Dose, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis A, Conclusion