Vasculotropic, paracrine actions of infused mesenchymal stem cells are important to the recovery from acute kidney injury

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2007 May;292(5):F1626-35. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00339.2006. Epub 2007 Jan 9.


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major clinical problem in which a critical vascular, pathophysiological component is recognized. We demonstrated previously that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), unlike fibroblasts, are significantly renoprotective after ischemia-reperfusion injury and concluded that this renoprotection is mediated primarily by paracrine mechanisms. In this study, we investigated whether MSC possess vasculoprotective activity that may contribute, at least in part, to an improved outcome after ischemia-reperfusion AKI. MSC-conditioned medium contains VEGF, HGF, and IGF-1 and augments aortic endothelial cell (EC) growth and survival, a response not observed with fibroblast-conditioned medium. MSC and EC share vasculotropic gene expression profiles, as both form capillary tubes in vitro on Matrigel alone or in cooperation without fusion. MSC undergo differentiation into an endothelial-like cell phenotype in culture and develop into vascular structures in vivo. Infused MSC were readily detected in the kidney early after reflow but were only rarely engrafted at 1 wk post-AKI. MSC attached in the renal microvascular circulation significantly decreased apoptosis of adjacent cells. Infusion of MSC immediately after reflow in severe ischemia-reperfusion AKI did not improve renal blood flow, renovascular resistance, or outer cortical blood flow. These data demonstrate that the unique vasculotropic, paracrine actions elicited by MSC play a significant renoprotective role after AKI, further demonstrating that cell therapy has promise as a novel intervention in AKI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Aorta / pathology
  • Aorta / physiopathology
  • Apoptosis
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Kidney / blood supply*
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Kidney / surgery
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microcirculation
  • Paracrine Communication*
  • Rats
  • Recovery of Function
  • Renal Circulation
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology*
  • Reperfusion Injury / surgery


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins