Putative kidney progenitor cells known as parietal cells adversely affect renal function in the absence of podocytes, researchers reported online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Marcus Moeller, MD, of the Department of Nephrology and Clinical Immunology at RWTH University Hospital Aachen in Aachen, Germany, and colleagues made this discovery about parietal cells while conducting mouse experiments focusing on podocytes. Kidney failure can occur when as little as approximately 20%-30% of podocytes are lost.

Based on their own earlier work suggesting parietal epithelial cells are a progenitor cell population for podocytes in juvenile mice, Dr. Moeller and his team explored whether parietal cells could generate podocytes in older mice, perhaps enabling treatment of kidney failure. The investigators found that podocytes could not be replenished from parietal cells, and further noted that after the loss of podocytes, parietal cells cause kidney scarring that contributes to progressive decline in renal function.

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“This opens a very important new strategy to prevent loss of kidney function: by inhibiting the parietal cells from doing their destructive work,” Dr. Moeller pointed out in a statement from the American Society of Nephrology.