The regenerative potential of parietal epithelial cells in adult mice

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Apr;25(4):693-705. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013050481. Epub 2014 Jan 9.


Previously, we showed that some podocytes in juvenile mice are recruited from cells lining Bowman's capsule, suggesting that parietal epithelial cells (PECs) are a progenitor cell population for podocytes. To investigate whether PECs also replenish podocytes in adult mice, PECs were genetically labeled in an irreversible fashion in 5-week-old mice. No significant increase in labeled podocytes was observed, even after 18 months. To accelerate a potential regenerative mechanism, progressive glomerular hypertrophy was induced by progressive partial nephrectomies. Again, no significant podocyte replenishment was observed. Rather, labeled PECs exclusively invaded segments of the tuft affected by glomerulosclerosis, consistent with our previous findings. We next reassessed PEC recruitment in juvenile mice using a different reporter mouse and confirmed significant recruitment of labeled PECs onto the glomerular tuft. Moreover, some labeled cells on Bowman's capsule expressed podocyte markers, and cells on Bowman's capsule were also directly labeled in juvenile podocyte-specific Pod-rtTA transgenic mice. In 6-week-old mice, however, cells on Bowman's capsule no longer expressed podocyte-specific markers. Similarly, in human kidneys, some cells on Bowman's capsule expressed the podocyte marker synaptopodin from 2 weeks to 2 years of age but not at 7 years of age. In summary, podocyte regeneration from PECs could not be detected in aging mice or models of glomerular hypertrophy. We propose that a small fraction of committed podocytes reside on Bowman's capsule close to the vascular stalk and are recruited onto the glomerular tuft during infancy to adolescence in mice and humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Bowman Capsule / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Hypertrophy
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology
  • Mice
  • Podocytes / cytology*
  • Regeneration / physiology*