Polycystic Kidney Disease

Compr Physiol. 2017 Jun 18;7(3):945-975. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c160018.


Renal cysts, which arise from renal tubules, can be seen in a variety of hereditary and nonhereditary entities. Common mechanisms associated with renal cyst formation include increased cell proliferation, epithelial fluid secretion, and extracellular matrix remodeling. Hereditary polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is seen as a component of numerous diseases. Autosomal dominant (AD) PKD is the most common potentially fatal hereditary disease in humans, causes renal failure in approximately 50% of affected individuals, and accounts for approximately 5% of end stage renal disease cases in the United States. ADPKD is caused by mutation in one of two genes-85% of cases are caused by mutation in PKD1 on chromosome 16 and 15% of cases are caused by mutation in PKD2 on chromosome 4. Polycystin-1, encoded by PKD1, is a large protein, has multiple transmembrane spanning domains, has extracellular regions suggesting a role in cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions, has intracellular domains suggesting a role in signal transduction, and can physically interact with Polycystin-2. Polycystin-2 is smaller, has transmembrane domains, can act as a cation channel with calcium permeability, and may be regulated by Polycystin-1. These proteins, and many others associated with cystic kidney disease, localize to primary cilia, which may act as flow sensors in the kidney; cystic kidney diseases have also been termed ciliopathies. An increasing number of intracellular mechanisms, which are abnormally regulated in PKD, have been described and are potential targets for therapy, which is lacking in this common hereditary disease. © 2017 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 7:945-975, 2017.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / drug therapy
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / etiology
  • TRPP Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPP Cation Channels / metabolism


  • TRPP Cation Channels
  • polycystic kidney disease 1 protein