Tubular injury has a major etiological role in fibrosis. For many years, this relationship has been dominated by the perception that epithelial cells are transformed into myofibroblasts that proliferate and generate fibrotic matrix-the so-called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Here we focus on mechanisms by which injury to the tubule results in fibrosis because of paracrine mechanisms. Specific injury to the proximal tubule results in inflammation, reversible injury, and adaptive repair if the insult is mild, self-limited in time, and occurs in a background of a normal kidney. Repeated injury, in contrast, leads to maladaptive repair with sustained tubule injury, chronic inflammation, proliferation of interstitial myofibroblasts, vascular rarefaction, interstitial fibrosis, and glomerular sclerosis. During the maladaptive repair process after the renal insult, many tubular cells become arrested in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. This results in activation of the DNA repair response with the resultant synthesis and secretion of pro-fibrotic factors. Pharmacologic interventions that enhance the movement through G2/M or facilitate apoptosis of cells that otherwise would be blocked in G2/M may reduce the development of fibrosis after kidney injury and reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease.
Keywords: G2/M arrest; acute kidney injury; apoptosis; chronic kidney disease; mitotic stress.