Background: Endogenous bone marrow-derived cells are known to incorporate into renal epithelium at a low rate. Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) rather than mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are responsible for this phenomenon. MSCs have the potential to ameliorate kidney function after acute kidney injury (AKI) without directly repopulating the tubules. However, little is known about the short-term effect of HSCs.
Methods: In this article, we analysed the survival rate and organ distribution of isolated rat HSCs injected into the renal artery after ischaemic renal injury, using quantitative real-time PCR, as well as their impact on renal function and histomorphology.
Results: Intra-arterially injected Lin(-)CD90(+) HSCs were detected in the kidney at significant amounts only within the first 24 h after injection and were virtually absent by Day 2. Compared with control animals, no differences were seen after HSC administration with respect to kidney function or histomorphologic changes of AKI. At Day 7 HSCs were again readily detectable in the kidney suggesting a redistribution of cells at later time points. Of note, HSCs did not seem to have an exclusive tropism for the injured kidney but were detectable in the lungs, liver, spleen, heart and brain at all time points.
Conclusions: Injected HSCs do not appear to significantly contribute to tubular repair or ameliorate renal damage in ischaemic AKI although they may show considerable engraftment in various organs. These data further challenge the concept that injection of HSCs may be used as a therapeutic approach in treating AKI.
Keywords: acute kidney injury; haematopoietic stem cells; ischaemia/reperfusion; kidney disease; nephron repair.