Peritubular Capillary Rarefaction: An Underappreciated Regulator of CKD Progression

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 4;21(21):8255. doi: 10.3390/ijms21218255.


Peritubular capillary (PTC) rarefaction is commonly detected in chronic kidney disease (CKD) such as hypertensive nephrosclerosis and diabetic nephropathy. Moreover, PTC rarefaction prominently correlates with impaired kidney function and predicts the future development of end-stage renal disease in patients with CKD. However, it is still underappreciated that PTC rarefaction is a pivotal regulator of CKD progression, primarily because the molecular mechanisms of PTC rarefaction have not been well-elucidated. In addition to the established mechanisms (reduced proangiogenic factors and increased anti-angiogenic factors), recent studies discovered significant contribution of the following elements to PTC loss: (1) prompt susceptibility of PTC to injury, (2) impaired proliferation of PTC, (3) apoptosis/senescence of PTC, and (4) pericyte detachment from PTC. Mainly based on the recent and novel findings in basic research and clinical study, this review describes the roles of the above-mentioned elements in PTC loss and focuses on the major factors regulating PTC angiogenesis, the assessment of PTC rarefaction and its surrogate markers, and an overview of the possible therapeutic agents to mitigate PTC rarefaction during CKD progression. PTC rarefaction is not only a prominent histological characteristic of CKD but also a central driving force of CKD progression.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; endothelial cell; pericyte detachment; peritubular capillary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Capillaries / pathology*
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Cell Count
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules / blood supply*
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology
  • Pericytes / pathology
  • Pericytes / physiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / pathology*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology