Kidney-derived c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells contribute to podocyte recovery in a model of acute proteinuria

Erika B. Rangel, Samirah A. Gomes, Rosemeire Kanashiro-Takeuchi, Russell G. Saltzman, Changli Wei, Phillip Ruiz, Jochen Reiser, Joshua M. Hare

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16 Scopus citations


Kidney-derived c-kit+ cells exhibit progenitor/stem cell properties and can regenerate epithelial tubular cells following ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats. We therefore investigated whether c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells contribute to podocyte repair in a rat model of acute proteinuria induced by puromycin aminonucleoside (PAN), the experimental prototype of human minimal change disease and early stages of focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis. We found that c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells accelerated kidney recovery by improving foot process effacement (foot process width was lower in c-kit group vs saline treated animals, P = 0.03). In particular, these cells engrafted in small quantity into tubules, vessels, and glomeruli, where they occasionally differentiated into podocyte-like cells. This effect was related to an up regulation of α-Actinin-4 and mTORC2-Rictor pathway. Activation of autophagy by c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells also contributed to kidney regeneration and intracellular homeostasis (autophagosomes and autophagolysosomes number and LC3A/B-I and LC3A/B-II expression were higher in the c-kit group vs saline treated animals, P = 0.0031 and P = 0.0009, respectively). Taken together, our findings suggest that kidney-derived c-kit+ progenitor/stem cells exert reparative effects on glomerular disease processes through paracrine effects, to a lesser extent differentiation into podocyte-like cells and contribution to maintenance of podocyte cytoskeleton after injury. These findings have clinical implications for cell therapy of glomerular pathobiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14723
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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