Mesenchymal stem cell therapy promotes renal repair by limiting glomerular podocyte and progenitor cell dysfunction in adriamycin-induced nephropathy

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 Nov 1;303(9):F1370-81. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00057.2012. Epub 2012 Sep 5.


We previously reported that in a model of spontaneously progressive glomerular injury with early podocyte loss, abnormal migration, and proliferation of glomerular parietal epithelial progenitor cells contributed to the formation of synechiae and crescentic lesions. Here we first investigated whether a similar sequence of events could be extended to rats with adriamycin (ADR)-induced nephropathy. As a second aim, the regenerative potential of therapy with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on glomerular resident cells was evaluated. In ADR-treated rats, decrease of WT1(+) podocyte number due to apoptosis was associated with reduced glomerular expression of nephrin and CD2AP. As a consequence of podocyte injury, glomerular adhesions of the capillary tuft to the Bowman's capsule were observed, followed by crescent-like lesions and glomerulosclerosis. Cellular components of synechiae were either NCAM(+) parietal progenitor cells or nestin(+) podocytes. In ADR rats, repeated injections of MSCs limited podocyte loss and apoptosis and partially preserved nephrin and CD2AP. MSCs attenuated the formation of glomerular podocyte-parietal epithelial cell bridges and normalized the distribution of NCAM(+) progenitor cells along the Bowman's capsule, thereby reducing glomerulosclerosis. Finding that MSCs increased glomerular VEGF expression and limited microvascular rarefaction may explain the prosurvival effect by stem cell therapy. MSCs also displayed anti-inflammatory activity. Coculture of MSCs with ADR-damaged podocytes showed a functional role of stem cell-derived VEGF on prosurvival pathways. These data suggest that MSCs by virtue of their tropism for damaged kidney and ability to provide a local prosurvival environment may represent a useful strategy to preserve podocyte viability and reduce glomerular inflammation and sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Podocytes / pathology
  • Podocytes / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / pathology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CD2-associated protein
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • nephrin
  • Doxorubicin