Mitotic Catastrophe Causes Podocyte Loss in the Urine of Human Diabetics

Am J Pathol. 2019 Feb;189(2):248-257. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2018.10.016. Epub 2018 Nov 23.


Mitotic catastrophe (MC) is a major cause of podocyte loss in vitro and in vivo. We evaluated urine samples (n = 184 urine samples from diabetic patients; n = 41 patients) from diabetic patients and determined the presence of podocytes in the urine and studied their characteristics, specifically asking whether apoptosis versus MC is present. We also evaluated diabetic glomeruli in renal biopsy specimens by electron microscopy (n = 54). A battery of stains including the antibody to podocalyxin (PCX) were used. PCX and podocytes (PCX+podo) showed nuclear morphologies such as a i) mononucleated normal shape (8.7%), ii) large and abnormal shape (3.8%), iii) multinucleated with or without micronucleoli (31.2%), iv) mitotic spindles (8.2%), v) single nucleus and denucleation combined (10.3%), and vi) denucleation only (37.0%). Large size/abnormal shape, multinucleation, mitotic spindles, and a combination of single nucleus and denucleation were considered features of MC (53.5%). Dual staining of PCX+podo was positive for Glepp 1 (50%), whereas none of PCX+podo were positive for nephrin, podocin, leukocyte, or parietal epithelial cell markers (cytokeratin 8), annexin V, cleaved caspase-3, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling. Ten percent of PCX+podo were positive for phosphorylated vimentin. Electron microscopy identified cellular and nuclear podocyte changes characteristic of MC. The majority of urine podocytes in diabetic patients showed MC, not apoptosis. This noninvasive approach may be clinically useful in determining progressive diabetic nephropathy or response to therapeutic intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apoptosis*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / urine
  • Diabetic Nephropathies* / metabolism
  • Diabetic Nephropathies* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Glomerulus / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosis*
  • Podocytes* / metabolism
  • Podocytes* / ultrastructure


  • Biomarkers