Renin cells in homeostasis, regeneration and immune defence mechanisms

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2018 Apr;14(4):231-245. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2017.186. Epub 2018 Jan 30.


An accumulating body of evidence suggests that renin-expressing cells have developed throughout evolution as a mechanism to preserve blood pressure and fluid volume homeostasis as well as to counteract a number of homeostatic and immunological threats. In the developing embryo, renin precursor cells emerge in multiple tissues, where they differentiate into a variety of cell types. The function of those precursors and their progeny is beginning to be unravelled. In the developing kidney, renin-expressing cells control the morphogenesis and branching of the renal arterial tree. The cells do not seem to fully differentiate but instead retain a degree of developmental plasticity or molecular memory, which enables them to regenerate injured glomeruli or to alter their phenotype to control blood pressure and fluid-electrolyte homeostasis. In haematopoietic tissues, renin-expressing cells might regulate bone marrow differentiation and participate in a circulating leukocyte renin-angiotensin system, which acts as a defence mechanism against infections or tissue injury. Furthermore, renin-expressing cells have an intricate lineage and functional relationship with erythropoietin-producing cells and are therefore central to two endocrine systems - the renin-angiotensin and erythropoietin systems - that sustain life by controlling fluid volume and composition, perfusion pressure and oxygen delivery to tissues. However, loss of the homeostatic control of these systems following dysregulation of renin-expressing cells can be detrimental, with serious pathological events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Kidney / embryology*
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Renin / metabolism*
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology


  • Renin