Chronic kidney disease culminating in end-stage kidney disease is a major public health problem costing in excess of $40 billion per year with high morbidity and mortality. Current tools for glomerular disease monitoring lack precision and contribute to poor outcome. The podocyte depletion hypothesis describes the major mechanisms underlying the progression of glomerular diseases, which are responsible for more than 80% of cases of end-stage kidney disease. The question arises of whether this new knowledge can be used to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Podocytes have unique characteristics that make them an attractive monitoring tool. Methodologies for estimating podocyte number, size, density, glomerular volume and other parameters in routine kidney biopsies, and the rate of podocyte detachment from glomeruli into urine (podometrics) now have been developed and validated. They potentially fill important gaps in the glomerular disease monitoring toolbox. The application of these tools to glomerular disease groups shows good correlation with outcome, although data validating their use for individual decision making is not yet available. Given the urgency of the clinical problem, we argue that the time has come to focus on testing these tools for application to individualized clinical decision making toward more effective progression prevention.
Keywords: Progression; kidney failure; podocyte; podometrics; prevention.
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