The podocyte and diabetes mellitus: is the podocyte the key to the origins of diabetic nephropathy?

Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2008 Jan;17(1):32-6. doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e3282f2904d.


Purpose of review: Podocyte injury plays a key role in the development of diabetic nephropathy. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of mechanisms of podocyte injury in diabetes mellitus and the associated alterations in the function of the glomerular filtration barrier.

Recent findings: The effects of hyperglycemia on critical podocyte parameters including cell-cell interactions, attachment to the glomerular basement membrane, and podocyte apoptosis have been determined in both cell culture and in-vivo models of diabetes mellitus. The podocyte has also been identified as a target of action for insulin and growth hormone, hormones with significant roles in the altered homeostasis of diabetes mellitus.

Summary: Understanding the cellular and molecular basis for changes in podocyte structure and function in diabetes mellitus may lead to novel diagnostic tools and treatment strategies for diabetic nephropathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology*
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Podocytes / pathology*


  • Insulin
  • Membrane Proteins
  • nephrin
  • Growth Hormone