Role of podocyte slit diaphragm as a filtration barrier

Nephrology (Carlton). 2006 Aug;11(4):274-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1797.2006.00583.x.


Although the role of glomerular basement membrane has been emphasised as the barrier for retaining plasma proteins in the past three decades, some recent studies have demonstrated that the slit diaphragm of the glomerular epithelial cell (podocyte) is the structure likely to be the barrier in the glomerular capillary wall. Nephrin and podocin were identified as gene products mutated in Finnish-type congenital nephrotic syndrome and autosomal recessive steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome, respectively. Nephrin s located at the outer leaflet of plasma membranes of the slit diaphragm. Podocin is reported to have an interaction with nephrin. The anti-nephrin antibody is capable of inducing massive proteinuria, which indicates that nephrin is a key functional molecule in the slit diaphragm. The expression of nephrin and podocin was reduced in glomeruli of minimal change nephrotic syndrome, which suggested that the altered expression of these molecules contributes to the development of proteinuria also in acquired diseases. Some recent studies demonstrated that CD2-associated protein (CD2AP) is also a functional molecule in the slit diaphragm, and its expression is altered in membranous nephropathy. These observations suggested that alteration of the molecular arrangement in the slit diaphragm is involved in the development of proteinuria in several kinds of glomerular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Podocytes / chemistry
  • Podocytes / cytology
  • Podocytes / physiology*