The charge for going by foot: modifying the surface of podocytes

Exp Nephrol. Mar-Apr 1998;6(2):98-103. doi: 10.1159/000020511.


The podocyte is a highly differentiated cell which forms a crucial component of the glomerular filtration barrier. It maintains a large filtration surface through the slit membranes and counteracts the distension of the glomerular basement membrane. The podocyte is covered with an anionic glycocalyx believed to be important in the maintenance of foot process structures, but the mechanisms of the cellular interaction between podocyte charge and its function are not clearly understood. It has been speculated that the charge selectivity of the glomerular barrier is influenced by angiotensin II. In experimental models of glomerular nephropathy neutralization of the polyanionic surface with polycations causes a retraction of podocyte foot processes. The effect of polycations is energy and Ca2+ dependent and results in tyrosine kinase induced phosphorylation of proteins of the foot processes. Charge alterations of the podocyte seem also associated with proteinuria in several human glomerular diseases such as membranous or diabetic nephropathy. The knowledge of the interaction between charge and podocyte function might offer new strategies in the treatment of glomerular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / cytology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure
  • Proteinuria