The evolutionary conserved Wnt signaling transduction pathway plays essential roles in a wide array of biologic processes including embryonic development, branching morphogenesis, proliferation and carcinogenesis. Over the past ten years it has become increasingly clear that Wnt signaling also regulates the response of adult organs to disease processes, including kidney disease. This review will focus on the growing literature implicating important roles for Wnt signaling during disease in two separate kidney compartments: the tubular epithelium and the interstitium.
The kidney possesses profound regenerative potential and in some cases can recover completely 'restitutio at integrum' following an acute kidney injury (AKI). Emerging evidence strongly suggests that sometimes repair is incomplete, however, and, in this situation, an episode of AKI leads to future chronic kidney disease (CKD). Understanding the tubular response after AKI will shed light on the relationship between incomplete repair and future risk of CKD. The first repair phase after AKI is characterized by robust proliferation of epithelial cells in the proximal tubule. The exact source of these proliferating cells has been a source of controversy for the last decade. While nearly everyone now agrees that reparative cells arise within the proximal tubule, there is disagreement about whether all surviving cells possess an equivalent repair capacity through dedifferentiation, or alternatively whether a pre-existing intratubular stem cell population [so-called scattered tubular cells (STC)] is responsible for repair. This review will summarize the evidence on both sides of this issue and will discuss very recent genetic fate-tracing data that strongly points against the existence of intratubular stem cells but rather indicates that terminally differentiated proximal tubule epithelial cells undergo dedifferentiation upon injury to replace lost neighboring tubular epithelial cells through proliferative self-duplication. This new evidence includes data clearly indicating that STC are not committed tubular stem cells but instead represent individual dedifferentiated tubular epithelial cells that transiently express putative stem cell markers.
The review summarizes the most recent advances in stem cell and regenerative approaches to treat kidney injury, and highlights areas of active controversy. Over the past year, a number of findings have been reported that have brought this field much closer to clinical translation.
Fibrinogen (Fg) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several fibrotic disorders by acting as a profibrotic ligand for a variety of cellular surface receptors and by modulating the provisional fibrin matrix formed after injury. We demonstrated increased renal Fg expression after unilateral ureteral obstruction and folic acid (FA) nephropathy in mice, respectively. Urinary Fg excretion was also increased in FA nephropathy. Using in vitro and in vivo approaches, our results suggested that IL-6 mediates STAT3 activation in kidney fibrosis and that phosphorylated (p)STAT3 binds to Fg?, Fg?, and Fg? promoters in the kidney to regulate their transcription. Genetically modified Fg heterozygous mice (?75% of normal plasma Fg levels) exhibited only 3% kidney interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy after FA nephropathy compared with 24% for wild-type mice. Fibrinogenolysis through Ancrod administration after FA reduced interstitial fibrosis more than threefold compared with vehicle-treated control mice. Mechanistically, we show that Fg acts synergistically with transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1 to induce fibroblast proliferation and activates TGF-?1/pSMAD2 signaling. This study offers increased understanding of Fg expression and molecular interactions with TGF-?1 in the progression to kidney fibrosis and, importantly, indicates that fibrinogenolytics like Ancrod present a treatment opportunity for a yet intractable disease.
Renal pericytes have been neglected for many years, but recently they have become an intensively studied cell population in renal biology and pathophysiology. Pericytes are stromal cells that support vasculature, and a subset of pericytes are mesenchymal stem cells. In kidney, pericytes have been reported to play critical roles in angiogenesis, regulation of renal medullary and cortical blood flow, and serve as progenitors of interstitial myofibroblasts in renal fibrogenesis. They interact with endothelial cells through distinct signaling pathways and their activation and detachment from capillaries after acute or chronic kidney injury may be critical for driving chronic kidney disease progression. By contrast, during kidney homeostasis it is likely that pericytes serve as a local stem cell population that replenishes differentiated interstitial and vascular cells lost during aging. This review describes both the regenerative properties of pericytes as well as involvement in pathophysiologic conditions such as fibrogenesis.
AKI predicts the future development of CKD, and one proposed mechanism for this epidemiologic link is loss of peritubular capillaries triggering chronic hypoxia. A precise definition of changes in peritubular perfusion would help test this hypothesis by more accurately correlating these changes with future loss of kidney function. Here, we have adapted and validated a fluorescence microangiography approach for use with mice to visualize, analyze, and quantitate peritubular capillary dynamics after AKI. A novel software-based approach enabled rapid and automated quantitation of capillary number, individual area, and perimeter. After validating perfusion in mice with genetically labeled endothelia, we compared peritubular capillary number and size after moderate AKI, characterized by complete renal recovery, and after severe AKI, characterized by development of interstitial fibrosis and CKD. Eight weeks after severe AKI, we measured a 40%±7.4% reduction in peritubular capillary number (P<0.05) and a 36%±4% decrease in individual capillary cross-sectional area (P<0.001) for a 62%±2.2% reduction in total peritubular perfusion (P<0.01). Whereas total peritubular perfusion and number of capillaries did not change, we detected a significant change of single capillary size following moderate AKI. The loss of peritubular capillary density and caliber at week 8 closely correlated with severity of kidney injury at day 1, suggesting irreparable microvascular damage. These findings emphasize a direct link between severity of acute injury and future loss of peritubular perfusion, demonstrate that reduced capillary caliber is an unappreciated long-term consequence of AKI, and offer a new quantitative imaging tool for understanding how AKI leads to future CKD in mouse models.
Myofibroblasts secrete matrix during chronic injury, and their ablation ameliorates fibrosis. Development of new biomarkers and therapies for CKD will be aided by a detailed analysis of myofibroblast gene expression during the early stages of fibrosis. However, dissociating myofibroblasts from fibrotic kidney is challenging. We therefore adapted translational ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) to isolate and profile mRNA from myofibroblasts and their precursors during kidney fibrosis. We generated and characterized a transgenic mouse expressing an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-tagged L10a ribosomal subunit protein under control of the collagen1?1 promoter. We developed a one-step procedure for isolation of polysomal RNA from collagen1?1-eGFPL10a mice subject to unilateral ureteral obstruction and analyzed and validated the resulting transcriptional profiles. Pathway analysis revealed strong gene signatures for cell proliferation, migration, and shape change. Numerous novel genes and candidate biomarkers were upregulated during fibrosis, specifically in myofibroblasts, and we validated these results by quantitative PCR, in situ, and Western blot analysis. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of early myofibroblast gene expression during kidney fibrosis and introduces a new technique for cell-specific polysomal mRNA isolation in kidney injury models that is suited for RNA-sequencing technologies.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) promotes an abrupt loss of kidney function that results in substantial morbidity and mortality. Considerable effort has gone toward identification of diagnostic biomarkers and analysis of AKI-associated molecular events; however, most studies have adopted organ-wide approaches and have not elucidated the interplay among different cell types involved in AKI pathophysiology. To better characterize AKI-associated molecular and cellular events, we developed a mouse line that enables the identification of translational profiles in specific cell types. This strategy relies on CRE recombinase-dependent activation of an EGFP-tagged L10a ribosomal protein subunit, which allows translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) of mRNA populations in CRE-expressing cells. Combining this mouse line with cell type-specific CRE-driver lines, we identified distinct cellular responses in an ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) model of AKI. Twenty-four hours following IRI, distinct translational signatures were identified in the nephron, kidney interstitial cell populations, vascular endothelium, and macrophages/monocytes. Furthermore, TRAP captured known IRI-associated markers, validating this approach. Biological function annotation, canonical pathway analysis, and in situ analysis of identified response genes provided insight into cell-specific injury signatures. Our study provides a deep, cell-based view of early injury-associated molecular events in AKI and documents a versatile, genetic tool to monitor cell-specific and temporal-specific biological processes in disease modeling.
Identifying new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for podocytopathies such as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) requires a detailed analysis of transcriptional changes in podocytes over the course of disease. Here we used translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) to isolate and profile podocyte-specific mRNA in two different models of FSGS. We expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein-tagged to ribosomal protein L10a in podocytes under the control of the collagen-1?1 promoter, enabling one-step podocyte-specific mRNA isolation over the course of disease. This TRAP protocol robustly enriched known podocyte-specific mRNAs. We crossed Col1?1-eGFP-L10a mice with the Actn4(-/-) and Actn4(+/K256E) models of FSGS and analyzed podocyte transcriptional profiles at 2, 6, and 44 weeks of age. Two upregulated podocyte genes in murine FSGS (CXCL1 and DMPK) were found to be upregulated at the protein level in biopsies from patients with FSGS, validating this approach. There was no dilution of podocyte-specific transcripts during disease. These are the first podocyte-specific RNA expression data sets during aging and in two models of FSGS. This approach identified new podocyte proteins that are upregulated in FSGS and defines novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for human glomerular disease.Kidney International advance online publication, 18 June 2014; doi:10.1038/ki.2014.204.
In recent years it has become clear that most organs and tissues, including kidney, contain resident stem/progenitor cells. Stem cells are undifferentiated, long-lived cells that are unique in their ability to produce differentiated daughter cells and to retain their stem cell identity by self-renewal. A primary goal of this meeting was to review the current understanding of kidney stem cells and mechanisms of kidney regeneration in both lower vertebrates and mammals. Presenters covered a broad range of topics including stem cell quiescence, epigenetics, transcriptional control circuits, dedifferentiation, pluripotent stem cells, renal progenitors, and novel imaging approaches in kidney regeneration. By the end of this highly interactive conference it was clear we are entering into very exciting times for regenerative medicine and the kidney.
The Kidney Research National Dialogue represents a novel effort by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to solicit and prioritize research objectives from the renal research and clinical communities. The present commentary highlights selected scientific opportunities specific to the study of renal development, physiology, and cell biology. Describing such fundamental kidney biology serves as a necessary foundation for translational and clinical studies that will advance disease care and prevention. It is intended that these objectives foster and focus scientific efforts in these areas in the coming decade and beyond.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is common and urgently requires new preventative therapies. Expression of a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor transgene protects against acute kidney injury, suggesting that manipulating the tubular epithelial cell cycle may be a viable therapeutic strategy. Broad spectrum small molecule CDK inhibitors are protective in some kidney injury models, but these have toxicities and epithelial proliferation is eventually required for renal repair. Here, we tested the effect of a novel and specific inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and CDK6, PD 0332991, which is already in human trials, on epithelial survival in vitro and kidney injury in vivo. We report that CDK4/6 inhibition induced G0/G1 cycle arrest in cultured human renal proximal tubule cells (hRPTC) at baseline and after injury. CDK4/6 inhibition protected hRPTC from DNA damage and caspase 3/7 activation following exposure to the nephrotoxins cisplatin, etoposide, and antimycin A. In vivo, mice treated with PD 0332991 prior to IRI exhibited dramatically reduced epithelial progression through S-phase 24 hours after IRI. Despite reduced epithelial proliferation, PD 0332991 ameliorated kidney injury as reflected by improved serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels 24 hours after injury. Inflammatory markers and macrophage infiltration were also significantly decreased in injured kidneys. Importantly, cell cycle inhibition was transient, and the epithelial proliferative response completely recovered by day three after IRI, allowing repair to occur. These results indicate that induction of transient proximal tubule cell cycle arrest with specific CDK4/6 inhibitors, or "pharmacological quiescence," represents a novel strategy to prevent AKI.
Chronic injury to the kidney causes kidney fibrosis with irreversible loss of functional renal parenchyma and leads to the clinical syndromes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Regardless of the type of initial injury, kidney disease progression follows the same pathophysiologic processes characterized by interstitial fibrosis, capillary rarefaction and tubular atrophy. Myofibroblasts play a pivotal role in fibrosis by driving excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Targeting these cells in order to prevent the progression of CKD is a promising therapeutic strategy, however, the cellular source of these cells is still controversial. In recent years, a growing amount of evidence points to resident mesenchymal cells such as pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts, which form extensive networks around the renal vasculature, as major contributors to the pool of myofibroblasts in renal fibrogenesis. Identifying the cellular origin of myofibroblasts and the key regulatory pathways that drive myofibroblast proliferation and transdifferentiation as well as capillary rarefaction is the first step to developing novel anti-fibrotic therapeutics to slow or even reverse CKD progression and ultimately reduce the prevalence of ESRD. This review will summarize recent findings concerning the cellular source of myofibroblasts and highlight recent discoveries concerning the key regulatory signaling pathways that drive their expansion and progression in CKD.
Whether kidney proximal tubule harbors a scattered population of epithelial stem cells is a major unsolved question. Lineage-tracing studies, histologic characterization, and ex vivo functional analysis results conflict. To address this controversy, we analyzed the lineage and clonal behavior of fully differentiated proximal tubule epithelial cells after injury. A CreER(T2) cassette was knocked into the sodium-dependent inorganic phosphate transporter SLC34a1 locus, which is expressed only in differentiated proximal tubule. Tamoxifen-dependent recombination was absolutely specific to proximal tubule. Clonal analysis after injury and repair showed that the bulk of labeled cells proliferate after injury with increased clone size after severe compared with mild injury. Injury to labeled proximal tubule epithelia induced expression of CD24, CD133, vimentin, and kidney-injury molecule-1, markers of putative epithelial stem cells in the human kidney. Similar results were observed in cultured proximal tubules, in which labeled clones proliferated and expressed dedifferentiation and injury markers. When mice with completely labeled kidneys were subject to injury and repair there was no dilution of fate marker despite substantial proliferation, indicating that unlabeled progenitors do not contribute to kidney repair. During nephrogenesis and early kidney growth, single proximal tubule clones expanded, suggesting that differentiated cells also contribute to tubule elongation. These findings provide no evidence for an intratubular stem-cell population, but rather indicate that terminally differentiated epithelia reexpress apparent stem-cell markers during injury-induced dedifferentiation and repair.
Fibrosis and scar formation results from chronic progressive injury in virtually every tissue and affects a growing number of people around the world. Myofibroblasts drive fibrosis, and recent work has demonstrated that mesenchymal cells, including pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts, are their main progenitors. Understanding the cellular mechanisms of pericyte/fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition, myofibroblast proliferation and the key signalling pathways that regulate these processes is essential to develop novel targeted therapeutics for the growing patient population suffering from solid organ fibrosis. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about different progenitor cells of myofibroblasts, discuss major pathways that regulate their transdifferentiation and discuss the current status of novel targeted anti-fibrotic therapeutics in development.
The kidney possesses the capacity to repair after an acute insult, even one that causes complete organ failure. This regenerative response is characterized by robust proliferation of epithelial cells, principally those located in the proximal tubule. Because defining the origin of these reparative cells has important consequences for stem cell and regenerative approaches to treating kidney injury, this area has been the subject of intense investigation and debate. While progress has been made in narrowing the possible origin of these cells to an intratubular source, there has been no consensus between the possibility of a pre-existing intratubular stem or progenitor cell versus the possibility that fully differentiated epithelial cells re-enter the cell cycle after injury and generate new proximal tubule cells through self-duplication. This review will summarize the evidence on both sides of this active controversy and provide support for the notion that no pre-existing proximal tubule stem cell population exists, but rather all differentiated proximal tubule epithelia have the capacity to proliferate during repair by a mechanism of dedifferentiation and self-duplication.
Acute kidney injury predisposes patients to the development of both chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure, but the molecular details underlying this important clinical association remain obscure. We report that kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1), an epithelial phosphatidylserine receptor expressed transiently after acute injury and chronically in fibrotic renal disease, promotes kidney fibrosis. Conditional expression of KIM-1 in renal epithelial cells (Kim1(RECtg)) in the absence of an injury stimulus resulted in focal epithelial vacuolization at birth, but otherwise normal tubule histology and kidney function. By 4 weeks of age, Kim1(RECtg) mice developed spontaneous and progressive interstitial kidney inflammation with fibrosis, leading to renal failure with anemia, proteinuria, hyperphosphatemia, hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy, and death, analogous to progressive kidney disease in humans. Kim1(RECtg) kidneys had elevated expression of proinflammatory monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) at early time points. Heterologous expression of KIM-1 in an immortalized proximal tubule cell line triggered MCP-1 secretion and increased MCP-1-dependent macrophage chemotaxis. In mice expressing a mutant, truncated KIM-1 polypeptide, experimental kidney fibrosis was ameliorated with reduced levels of MCP-1, consistent with a profibrotic role for native KIM-1. Thus, sustained KIM-1 expression promotes kidney fibrosis and provides a link between acute and recurrent injury with progressive chronic kidney disease.
Injury to the adult kidney induces a number of developmental genes thought to regulate repair, including Wnt4. During kidney development, early nephron precursors and medullary stroma both express Wnt4, where it regulates epithelialization and controls smooth muscle fate, respectively. Expression patterns and roles for Wnt4 in the adult kidney, however, remain unclear. In this study, we used reporters, lineage analysis, and conditional knockout or activation of the Wnt/?-catenin pathway to investigate Wnt4 in the adult kidney. Proliferating, medullary, interstitial myofibroblasts strongly expressed Wnt4 during renal fibrosis, whereas tubule epithelia, except for the collecting duct, did not. Exogenous Wnt4 drove myofibroblast differentiation of a pericyte-like cell line, suggesting that Wnt4 might regulate pericyte-to-myofibroblast transition through autocrine signaling. However, conditional deletion of Wnt4 in interstitial cells did not reduce myofibroblast proliferation, cell number, or myofibroblast gene expression during fibrosis. Because the injured kidney expresses multiple Wnt ligands that might compensate for the absence of Wnt4, we generated a mouse model with constitutive activation of canonical Wnt/?-catenin signaling in interstitial pericytes and fibroblasts. Kidneys from these mice exhibited spontaneous myofibroblast differentiation in the absence of injury. Taken together, Wnt4 expression in renal fibrosis defines a population of proliferating medullary myofibroblasts. Although Wnt4 may be dispensable for myofibroblast transformation, canonical Wnt signaling through ?-catenin stabilization is sufficient to drive spontaneous myofibroblast differentiation in interstitial pericytes and fibroblasts, emphasizing the importance of this pathway in renal fibrosis.
The kidney is a complex organ with over 30 different cell types, and understanding the lineage relationships between these cells is challenging. During nephrogenesis, a central question is how the coordinated morphogenesis, growth, and differentiation of distinct cell types leads to development of a functional organ. In mature kidney, understanding cell division and fate during injury, regeneration and aging are critical topics for understanding disease. Genetic lineage tracing offers a powerful tool to decipher cellular hierarchies in both development and disease because it allows the progeny of a single cell, or group of cells, to be tracked unambiguously. Recent advances in this field include the use of inducible recombinases, multicolor reporters, and mosaic analysis. In this review, we discuss lineage-tracing methods focusing on the mouse model system and consider the impact of these methods on our understanding of kidney biology and prospects for future application.Kidney International advance online publication, 2 October 2013; (2013) 0, 000-000. doi:10.1038/ki.2013.368.
After acute kidney injury, mice with short telomeres develop increased damage with reduced proliferative capacity, which suggests an important role for telomere length in kidney repair. The enzyme telomerase reverse transcriptase (mTert) regulates telomere length; embryonic stem cells and certain adult stem cells express mTert, but whether cells in the adult kidney express mTert and whether these cells play a role in renal repair are unknown. Here, we found that telomerase protein and mRNA were highly enriched in renal papilla, a proposed niche of kidney stem cells. Using mTert-GFP reporter mice, we detected mTert in a subset of papillary epithelial cells comprising the collecting duct predominantly but also the loop of Henle. Approximately 5% of mTert-GFP(+) cells were label retaining, a characteristic of stem cells. mTert mRNA levels increased in renal papilla after ischemia-reperfusion injury, but genetically labeled mTert-expressing papillary cells neither divided nor migrated out of the renal papilla during kidney repair. In summary, these data suggest that cells expressing telomerase reverse transcriptase are not a progenitor-cell population, and they do not play a direct role in kidney repair.
After damage the kidney has the ability to repair itself. With mild injury this repair can result in the return to a structural and functional state that is indistinguishable from normal. However, when the repair is more severe or is superimposed on baseline kidney abnormalities, the repair process can lead to fibrosis, which can facilitate progression to chronic kidney disease. Epidemiological studies now show that patients who have had acute kidney injury have a marked increase in their risk for the development of end-stage renal disease. Recent data have redefined the role of the surviving epithelial cells in fibrosis and attribute myofibroblast expansion to perivascular and interstitial fibroblasts. After severe injury, the proximal tubule cellular response is impaired with its proliferative response altered due to cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, resulting in generation of profibrotic factors including cytokines, growth factors and matrix proteins.
Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a commonly inherited disorder mostly caused by mutations in PKD1, encoding polycystin-1 (PC1). The disease is characterized by development and growth of epithelium-lined cyst in both kidneys, often leading to renal failure. There is no specific treatment for this disease. Here, we report a sustained activation of the transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in ischemic injured and uninjured Pkd1 knockout polycystic kidneys and in human ADPKD kidneys. Through a chemical library screen, we identified the anti-parasitic compound pyrimethamine as an inhibitor of STAT3 function. Treatment with pyrimethamine decreases cell proliferation in human ADPKD cells and blocks renal cyst formation in an adult and a neonatal PKD mouse model. Moreover, we demonstrated that a specific STAT3 inhibitor, S3I-201, reduces cyst formation and growth in a neonatal PKD mouse model. Our results suggest that PC1 acts as a negative regulator of STAT3 and that blocking STAT3 signaling with pyrimethamine or similar drugs may be an attractive therapy for human ADPKD.
Recently we have established that the kidney tubular epithelium is repaired by surviving epithelial cells. It is not known, however, whether a population of intratubular adult progenitor cells are responsible for this epithelial repair after acute kidney injury. In this study, we used an unbiased DNA analog-based approach that does not rely on candidate markers to track multiple rounds of cell division in vivo. In the proximal tubule, robust thymidine analog incorporation was observed postinjury. Cell division was stochastic and enriched among cells that were injured and dedifferentiated. There was no evidence for the presence of a population of specialized progenitors that repeatedly divide in response to injury. Instead, these results indicate that after injury, new epithelial cells arise from self-duplication of surviving cells, most of which are injured. Because the renal papilla contains DNA label-retaining cells and has been proposed as a stem cell niche, we examined the proliferative behavior of these putative progenitors after ischemia-reperfusion injury. Although label-retaining cells in the renal papilla diminished with time after ischemia-reperfusion injury, they neither proliferated nor migrated to the outer medulla or cortex. Thus, nonlethally injured cells repopulate the kidney epithelium after injury in the absence of any specialized progenitor cell population.
Chronic kidney diseases (CKD), independent of their primary cause, lead to progressive, irreversible loss of functional renal parenchyma. Renal pathology in CKD is characterized by tubulointerstitial fibrosis with excessive matrix deposition produced by myofibroblasts. Because blocking the formation of these scar-forming cells represents a logical therapeutic target for patients with progressive fibrotic kidney disease, the origin of renal myofibroblasts is a subject of intense investigation. Although the traditional view holds that resident fibroblasts are the myofibroblast precursor, for the last 10 years, injured epithelial cells have been thought to directly contribute to the myofibroblast pool by the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The recent application of genetic fate mapping techniques in mouse fibrosis models has provided new insights into the cell hierarchies in fibrotic kidney disease and results cast doubt on the concept that EMT is a source of myofibroblast recruitment in vivo, but rather point to the resident pericyte/perivascular fibroblast as the myofibroblast progenitor pool. This review will highlight recent findings arguing against EMT as a direct contributor to the kidney myofibroblast population and review the use of genetic fate mapping to elucidate the cellular mechanisms of kidney homeostasis and disease.
Drugs that inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling pathway are a rapidly growing chemotherapy class for treatment of solid tumors. This targeted therapy is more specific than traditional chemotherapy, causing fewer side effects. However, VEGF-targeted therapies cause hypertension in 30% to 80% of patients. Unlike traditional off-target side effects, hypertension is a mechanism-dependent, on-target toxicity, reflecting effective inhibition of the VEGF signaling pathway rather than nonspecific effects on unrelated signaling pathways. In this article, we review current understanding of the mechanisms of VEGF-targeted therapy-induced hypertension, discuss similarities with preeclampsia, review implications for therapy of this increasingly common clinical problem, and discuss the potential use of blood pressure increase as a biomarker for proper drug dosing and effective VEGF pathway inhibition.
Therapies that target the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway cause hypertension, but the mechanism remains unknown. This cross-sectional study tested the hypothesis that VEGF inhibition causes hypertension by suppressing VEGF-mediated vasodilatory pathways. Urine was collected from 80 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma from 2002 to 2009, 40 at baseline and 40 while on VEGF inhibitors. Measured urinary biomarkers include albumin, metabolites of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway and its downstream effector cGMP, and prostaglandin pathway biomarkers prostaglandin E2, 6-keto prostaglandin F1?, and cAMP, all normalized to urinary creatinine. The mean age in both groups was 61.8 years, 76% were men, and urinary albumin was higher in patients receiving VEGF inhibitors (median: 18.4 versus 4.6 mg/g; P = 0.009). cGMP/creatinine was suppressed in patients on VEGF inhibitors (0.28 versus 0.39 pmol/?g; P = 0.01), with a trend toward suppression of nitrate/creatinine (0.46 versus 0.62 ?mol/mg; P = 0.09). Both comparisons were strengthened when patients on bevacizumab were excluded, and only those receiving small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors were analyzed (cGMP/creatinine: P = 0.003; nitrate/creatinine: P = 0.01). Prostaglandin E2, 6-keto prostaglandin F1?, and cAMP did not differ between groups. These results suggest that hypertension induced by VEGF inhibitors is mediated by suppression of NO production. Prospective studies are needed to explore whether these biomarkers may be useful predictors of efficacy in patients receiving VEGF-targeted therapies.
For nearly 100 years, developmental biologists have utilized fate mapping to understand the contributions of progenitor populations to organogenesis. More recently, Cre-Lox technology has allowed genetic fate mapping in adult mice, clarifying cell hierarchies in adult kidney disease models. In ischemia-reperfusion injury, genetic labeling of epithelial cells has demonstrated that intrinsic epithelial cells are responsible for nephron repair and not an interstitial or other non-epithelial cell type. In fibrotic kidney injury, fate mapping techniques have strongly challenged the theory that epithelial cells traverse the basement membrane to become myofibroblasts in a process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and also indicate that interstitial pericytes/perivascular fibroblasts are the authentic myofibroblast progenitor pool. This mini review will summarize the fate mapping approach in mice, convey recent developments in kidney disease models, and outline future opportunities to apply this technology to better understand the cellular mechanisms of adult kidney homeostasis and disease.
Plasma cell dyscrasias are frequently encountered malignancies often associated with kidney disease through the production of monoclonal immunoglobulin (Ig). Paraproteins can cause a remarkably diverse set of pathologic patterns in the kidney and recent progress has been made in explaining the molecular mechanisms of paraprotein-mediated kidney injury. Other recent advances in the field include the introduction of an assay for free light chains and the use of novel antiplasma cell agents that can reverse renal failure in some cases. The role of stem cell transplantation, plasma exchange, and kidney transplantation in the management of patients with paraprotein-related kidney disease continues to evolve.
Kidney involvement is an under-recognized complication of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The diversity of lymphoma-related renal manifestations makes diagnosis difficult. Although abrupt worsening of kidney function may be the first sign of malignant disease, renal effects can be subtle or even silent. The causes of renal involvement similarly are varied. We discuss a case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and associated kidney failure from several distinct malignancy-related mechanisms and review the spectrum of lymphoma-related kidney involvement.
Hypertension and proteinuria are common but poorly understood renal toxicities of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor signaling pathway inhibitors. In this phase II study of cediranib (AZD2171) for recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer, the time course and severity of BP changes and proteinuria were characterized.
Understanding the origin of myofibroblasts in kidney is of great interest because these cells are responsible for scar formation in fibrotic kidney disease. Recent studies suggest epithelial cells are an important source of myofibroblasts through a process described as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; however, confirmatory studies in vivo are lacking. To quantitatively assess the contribution of renal epithelial cells to myofibroblasts, we used Cre/Lox techniques to genetically label and fate map renal epithelia in models of kidney fibrosis. Genetically labeled primary proximal epithelial cells cultured in vitro from these mice readily induce markers of myofibroblasts after transforming growth factor beta(1) treatment. However, using either red fluorescent protein or beta-galactosidase as fate markers, we found no evidence that epithelial cells migrate outside of the tubular basement membrane and differentiate into interstitial myofibroblasts in vivo. Thus, although renal epithelial cells can acquire mesenchymal markers in vitro, they do not directly contribute to interstitial myofibroblast cells in vivo. Lineage analysis shows that during nephrogenesis, FoxD1-positive((+)) mesenchymal cells give rise to adult CD73(+), platelet derived growth factor receptor beta(+), smooth muscle actin-negative interstitial pericytes, and these FoxD1-derivative interstitial cells expand and differentiate into smooth muscle actin(+) myofibroblasts during fibrosis, accounting for a large majority of myofibroblasts. These data indicate that therapeutic strategies directly targeting pericyte differentiation in vivo may productively impact fibrotic kidney disease.
Angiogenesis is important for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) growth, and blocking angiogenesis can lead to EOC regression. Cediranib is an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) -1, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, and c-kit.
Blood pressure elevation is likely a pharmacodynamic marker of VEGF signaling pathway (VSP) inhibition and could be useful for optimizing safe and effective VSP inhibitor dosing. Blood pressure rises on the first day of treatment, facilitating design and interpretation of future trials aiming to correlate blood pressure changes with clinical outcomes.
The two-hit model is a widely accepted genetic mechanism for progressive cyst formation in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. We have previously shown that adult inactivation of Pkd1 using the Mx1Cre(+) allele causes a late onset of focal cystic disease. An explanation for the delayed appearance of cysts is the requirement for an additional independent factor, or third hit. Here we show that renal injury leads to massive cystic disease in the same mouse line. Cysts are labeled with a collecting duct/tubule marker, Lectin Dolichos biflorus Agglutinin, which correlates with the site of Cre-mediated recombination in the collecting system. 5-Bromo-2-deoxyuridine labeling reveals that cyst-lining epithelial cells are comprised of regenerated cells in response to renal injury. These data demonstrate, for the first time, a role for polycystin-1 in kidney injury and repair and indicate that renal injury constitutes a third hit resulting in rapid cyst formation in adulthood.
Tubular damage following ischemic renal injury is often reversible, and tubular epithelial cell (TEC) proliferation is a hallmark of tubular repair. Macrophages have been implicated in tissue repair, and CSF-1, the principal macrophage growth factor, is expressed by TECs. We therefore tested the hypothesis that CSF-1 is central to tubular repair using an acute renal injury and repair model, ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). Mice injected with CSF-1 following I/R exhibited hastened healing, as evidenced by decreased tubular pathology, reduced fibrosis, and improved renal function. Notably, CSF-1 treatment increased TEC proliferation and reduced TEC apoptosis. Moreover, administration of a CSF-1 receptor-specific (CSF-1R-specific) antibody after I/R increased tubular pathology and fibrosis, suppressed TEC proliferation, and heightened TEC apoptosis. To determine the contribution of macrophages to CSF-1-dependent renal repair, we assessed the effect of CSF-1 on I/R in mice in which CD11b+ cells were genetically ablated and determined that macrophages only partially accounted for CSF-1-dependent tubular repair. We found that TECs expressed the CSF-1R and that this receptor was upregulated and coexpressed with CSF-1 in TECs following renal injury in mice and humans. Furthermore, signaling via the CSF-1R stimulated proliferation and reduced apoptosis in human and mouse TECs. Taken together, these data suggest that CSF-1 mediates renal repair by both a macrophage-dependent mechanism and direct autocrine/paracrine action on TECs.
T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain (TIM) proteins are cell-surface signaling receptors in T cells and scavenger receptors in antigen-presenting cells and kidney tubular epithelia. Here, we demonstrated a function for TIM proteins in mediating the degradation of NUR77, a nuclear receptor implicated in apoptosis and cell survival. TIM proteins interacted with and mediated the lysosomal degradation of NUR77 in a phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent pathway. We also showed dynamic cycling of TIM-1 to and from the cell surface through clathrin-dependent constitutive endocytosis. Blocking this process or mutating the phosphatidylserine-binding pocket in TIM-1 abrogated TIM-1-mediated degradation of NUR77. In an in vitro model of kidney injury, silencing TIM-1 increased NUR77 abundance and decreased epithelial cell survival. These results show that TIM proteins may affect immune cell function and the response of the kidney to injury.
Pericytes are a heterogeneous group of extensively branched cells located in microvessels where they make focal contacts with endothelium. Pericytes stabilize blood vessels, regulate vascular tone, synthesize matrix, participate in repair, and serve as progenitor cells, among other functions. Recent work has highlighted the role of pericytes and pericyte-like cells in fibrosis, in which chronic injury triggers pericyte proliferation and differentiation into collagen-secretory, contractile myofibroblasts with migration away from vessels, causing microvascular rarefaction. In this review the developmental origins of kidney pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts are summarized, pericyte to myofibroblast transition in type I diabetic nephropathy is discussed, and the regulation of pericyte differentiation into myofibroblasts as a therapeutic target for treatment of diabetic nephropathy is described.
New treatment paradigms that slow or reverse progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are needed to relieve significant patient and healthcare burdens. We have shown that a population of selected renal cells (SRCs) stabilized disease progression in a mass reduction model of CKD. Here, we further define the cellular composition of SRCs and apply this novel therapeutic approach to the ZSF1 rat, a model of severe progressive nephropathy secondary to diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. Injection of syngeneic SRCs into the ZSF1 renal cortex elicited a regenerative response that significantly improved survival and stabilized disease progression to renal structure and function beyond 1 year posttreatment. Functional improvements included normalization of multiple nephron structures and functions including glomerular filtration, tubular protein handling, electrolyte balance, and the ability to concentrate urine. Improvements to blood pressure, including reduced levels of circulating renin, were also observed. These functional improvements following SRC treatment were accompanied by significant reductions in glomerular sclerosis, tubular degeneration, and interstitial inflammation and fibrosis. Collectively, these data support the utility of a novel renal cell-based approach for slowing renal disease progression associated with diabetic nephropathy in the setting of metabolic syndrome, one of the most common causes of end-stage renal disease.
AKI is common in patients with cancer, and it causes interruptions in therapy and increased hospital length of stay, cost, and mortality. Although cancer patients are susceptible to all of the usual causes of AKI in patients without cancer, there are a number of AKI syndromes that occur more frequently or are unique to this patient population. AKI also confers substantially increased risk of short-term death, and the ability to reverse AKI portends a better outcome in some cancers, such as multiple myeloma. Several trends in oncology, including increased survival, better supportive care, older patients who have received multiple chemotherapy regimens, and new therapeutic options, are driving an increase in the numbers of cancer patients who develop AKI. As a result, nephrologists should be increasingly familiar with the diagnosis, management, and treatment of AKI in this setting. Here, we summarize recent data on epidemiology of AKI in cancer patients, describe the most common AKI syndromes in this population, and highlight emerging areas in the growing field of onconephrology.
Hypertension is a toxicity of antiangiogenic therapies and a possible biomarker that identifies patients with superior cancer outcomes. Understanding its mechanism will aid in treatment and could lead to the development of other biomarkers for predicting toxicity and anticancer efficacy. Recent evidence implicates nitric oxide (NO) suppression and endothelin-1 (ET-1) stimulation as potential mechanisms leading to antiangiogenic therapy-induced hypertension. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of regorafenib, a novel broad-spectrum kinase inhibitor with activity against multiple targets, including vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 inhibition, on NO and ET-1 levels.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains one of the leading causes of death in the developed world, and acute kidney injury (AKI) is now recognized as a major risk factor in its development. Understanding the factors leading to CKD after acute injury are limited by current animal models of AKI, which concurrently target various kidney cell types including epithelial, endothelial, and inflammatory cells. Here, we developed a mouse model of kidney injury using the Six2-Cre-LoxP technology to selectively activate expression of the simian diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor in renal epithelia derived from the metanephric mesenchyme. By adjusting the timing and dose of DT, a highly selective model of tubular injury was created to define the acute and chronic consequences of isolated epithelial injury. The DT-induced sublethal tubular epithelial injury was confined to the S1 and S2 segments of the proximal tubule rather than being widespread in the metanephric mesenchyme-derived epithelial lineage. Acute injury was promptly followed by inflammatory cell infiltration and robust tubular cell proliferation, leading to complete recovery after a single toxin insult. In striking contrast, three insults to renal epithelial cells at 1-week intervals resulted in maladaptive repair with interstitial capillary loss, fibrosis, and glomerulosclerosis, which was highly correlated with the degree of interstitial fibrosis. Thus, selective epithelial injury can drive the formation of interstitial fibrosis, capillary rarefaction, and potentially glomerulosclerosis, substantiating a direct role for damaged tubule epithelium in the pathogenesis of CKD.
Kidney pericytes are progenitors of scar-forming interstitial myofibroblasts that appear after injury. The function of kidney pericytes as microvascular cells and how these cells detach from peritubular capillaries and migrate to the interstitial space, however, are poorly understood. Here, we used an unbiased approach to identify genes in kidney pericytes relevant to detachment and differentiation in response to injury in vivo, with a particular focus on genes regulating proteolytic activity and angiogenesis. Kidney pericytes rapidly activated expression of a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-1 (ADAMTS1) and downregulated its inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3) in response to injury. Similarly to brain pericytes, kidney pericytes bound to and stabilized capillary tube networks in three-dimensional gels and inhibited metalloproteolytic activity and angiogenic signaling in endothelial cells. In contrast, myofibroblasts did not have these vascular stabilizing functions despite their derivation from kidney pericytes. Pericyte-derived TIMP3 stabilized and ADAMTS1 destabilized the capillary tubular networks. Furthermore, mice deficient in Timp3 had a spontaneous microvascular phenotype in the kidney resulting from overactivated pericytes and were more susceptible to injury-stimulated microvascular rarefaction with an exuberant fibrotic response. Taken together, these data support functions for kidney pericytes in microvascular stability, highlight central roles for regulators of extracellular proteolytic activity in capillary homoeostasis, and identify ADAMTS1 as a marker of activation of kidney pericytes.
Visualizing podocyte foot processes requires electron microscopy, a technique that depends on special equipment, requires immunogold for colabeling, and does not take advantage of the growing number of in vivo fluorophores available. To address these limitations, we developed a genetic strategy to allow detailed visualization of single podocytes and their foot processes by conventional fluorescence microscopy. We generated a transgenic mouse line expressing a GFP-Cre-ERT2 fusion protein under the control of the collagen ?1(I) promoter with strong podocyte expression. Administration of submaximal tamoxifen allowed genetic labeling of single podocytes when crossed with a Cre-reporter line. Of three different reporter systems that we evaluated for the ability to reveal fine structural details of podocytes, bigenic Coll1?1GCE;Gt(ROSA)26Sor(tm9(CAG-tdTomato)) mice allowed podocyte labeling with a strong and homogeneous reporter signal that was easily observed by epifluorescence. We could easily detect anatomic features of podocytes down to tertiary foot processes, and we were able to visualize and quantitate ultrastructural changes to foot processes after podocyte injury. In summary, using this method of genetic labeling and conventional fluorescence microscopy to visualize podocyte foot processes will complement electron microscopy and facilitate the analysis of podocytes and their precursors in vivo.
Nur77 and its family members Nurr1 and Nor-1 are inducible orphan nuclear receptors that orchestrate cellular responses to diverse extracellular signals. In epithelia, Nur77 can act as a potent proapoptotic molecule in response to cellular stress, suggesting a possible role for this nuclear receptor in the tissue response to injury. Here, we found that Nur77 promotes epithelial cell apoptosis after AKI. Injury of proximal tubular epithelial cells rapidly and strongly induced Nur77, Nor-1, and Nurr1 both in vitro and in vivo. After renal ischemia-reperfusion, Nurr77-deficient mice exhibited less apoptosis of tubular epithelial cells and better renal function than wild-type mice. Nur77-mediated renal injury involved a conformational change of Bcl2 and an increase in the protein levels of proapoptotic Bcl-xS. Ligand-activated retinoic acid receptors repressed Nur77 induction and function. Pretreatment of wild-type mice with retinoic acid before renal ischemia-reperfusion blunted the induction of Nur77, conferred protection of renal function, attenuated renal histologic injury, and reduced the expression of epithelial-derived proinflammatory cytokines. Retinoic acid also inhibited hypoxia-mediated induction of proinflammatory cytokines in cultured renal epithelial cells. Results obtained from proximal tubule cultures derived from Nur77-deficient mice suggested that the inhibition of Nur77 expression mediated the renoprotective effects of retinoic acid. In summary, Nur77 promotes epithelial apoptosis after ischemia-reperfusion injury, and retinoic acid-mediated inhibition of Nur77 expression is a promising therapeutic strategy for the prevention of AKI.
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway regulates tissue patterning during development, including patterning and growth of limbs and face, but whether Hh signaling plays a role in adult kidney remains undefined. In this study, using a panel of hedgehog-reporter mice, we show that the two Hh ligands (Indian hedgehog and sonic hedgehog ligands) are expressed in tubular epithelial cells. We report that the Hh effectors (Gli1 and Gli2) are expressed exclusively in adjacent platelet-derived growth factor receptor-?-positive interstitial pericytes and perivascular fibroblasts, suggesting a paracrine signaling loop. In two models of renal fibrosis, Indian Hh ligand was upregulated with a dramatic activation of downstream Gli effector expression. Hh-responsive Gli1-positive interstitial cells underwent 11-fold proliferative expansion during fibrosis, and both Gli1- and Gli2-positive cells differentiated into ?-smooth muscle actin-positive myofibroblasts. In the pericyte-like cell line 10T1/2, hedgehog ligand triggered cell proliferation, suggesting a possible role for this pathway in the regulation of cell cycle progression of myofibroblast progenitors during the development of renal fibrosis. The hedgehog antagonist IPI-926 abolished Gli1 induction in vivo but did not decrease kidney fibrosis. However, the transcriptional induction of Gli2 was unaffected by IPI-926, suggesting the existence of smoothened-independent Gli activation in this model. This study is the first detailed description of paracrine hedgehog signaling in adult kidney, which indicates a possible role for hedgehog-Gli signaling in fibrotic chronic kidney disease.
Generation of differentiated kidney cell types from pluripotent stem cells would be enormously useful for research and therapeutic purposes, but progress towards this goal has so far been limited. In three recent reports, mature kidney cell types and three-dimensional nephron-like structures were generated from pluripotent cells rapidly and efficiently. A detailed understanding of the signals that drive nephrogenesis proved critical for these achievements.
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