Cystogenic potential of CD133+ progenitor cells of human polycystic kidneys

Raquel Carvalhosa, Ilaria Deambrosis, Paola Carrera, Chiara Pasquino, Francesca Rigo, Maurizio Ferrari, Fedele Lasaponara, Andrea Ranghino, Luigi Biancone, Giuseppe Segoloni, Benedetta Bussolati, Giovanni Camussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, cysts arise focally and disrupt normal renal tissue leading to renal failure. In the present study, we show that cyst-lining cells express the stem cell marker CD133. CD133+ progenitor cells isolated from polycystic kidney, carrying mutations of PKD genes, showed a dedifferentiated phenotype similar to CD133+ progenitor cells from normal kidney. However, these cells were more proliferative and presented a defective epithelial differentiation phenotype with respect to normal renal CD133+ cells as they were not able to express all tubular epithelial cell markers when cultured in epithelial differentiation medium. Polycystic CD133+ cells, in contrast to normal renal CD133+ cells, formed cysts in vitro in a three-dimensional culture system and in vivo when injected subcutaneously within Matrigel in SCID mice. Rapamycin treatment reduced in vitro proliferation of polycystic CD133+ cells and decreased cystogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. The in vitro epithelial differentiation was only partially improved by rapamycin. These results indicate that polycystic CD133+ cells retain a dedifferentiated phenotype and the ability to generate cysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • cystogenesis
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • polycystin
  • stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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