Role of calcium in the progression of renal disease: experimental evidence

Kidney Int Suppl. 1992 May;36:S2-7.


Intracellular calcium mediates a wide array of cell functions in mesenchymal as well as in epithelial and endothelial cells. These comprise regulation of vascular tone, cell proliferation and synthesis of prostanoids and cytokines. Therefore, it is not surprising that a substantial body of evidence has emerged to suggest a crucial role of calcium in the initiation and perpetuation of renal disease. Increased deposition of calcium was found in the renal cortex of rats with remnant kidney and in kidney tissue of patients with end-stage renal failure. Calcium plays an important role in altered intrarenal and glomerular hemodynamics with increased glomerular wall tension as well as in cellular proliferation and in recurrent ischemic events leading to glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis. Besides hemodynamic mechanisms, additional calcium-dependent mechanisms must be considered for glomerular hypertrophy and/or mesangial proliferation to develop, namely the role of growth factors, prostanoids and cytokines. Their signals include receptor-regulated production of inositol-trisphosphate and diacylglycerol and the consecutive stimulation of protein kinase C and the Na/H-antiport. Full activation of this antiport, which raises intracellular pH and thereby stimulates protooncogenes, again requires the presence of calcium. Recurrent focal glomerular ischemia may result in cellular and mitochondrial calcium overload that may interfere with cellular energy metabolism. Calcium also activates proteinases and the production of oxidants to enhance neutrophil-mediated cell injury. These deleterious effects of calcium may initiate and perpetuate the progression of renal disease and eventually lead to end-stage renal failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Division
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / pathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Renal Circulation


  • Calcium