Drugs to foster kidney regeneration in experimental animals and humans

Elena Gagliardini, Ariela Benigni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The incidence of kidney diseases is increasing worldwide and they are emerging as a major public health problem. Once mostly considered inexorable, renal disease progression can now be halted and lesions can even regress with drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin II type I receptor blockers, indicating the possibility of kidney repair. Summary: The discovery of renal progenitor cells lining the Bowman capsule of adult rat and human kidneys has shed light on the mechanism of repair by ACEi. Parietal progenitors are a reservoir of cells that contribute to podocyte turnover in physiological conditions. In the early phases of renal disease these progenitors migrate chaotically and subsequently proliferate, accumulating in Bowman's space. The abnormal behavior of parietal progenitors is sustained by the activation of CXCR4 receptors in response to an increased production of the chemokine SDF-1 by podocytes activated by the inflammatory environment. Ang II, via the AT1 receptor, also contributes to progenitor cell proliferation. The CXCR4/SDF-1 and Ang II/AT1 receptor pathogenic pathways both pave the way for lesion formation and subsequent sclerosis. ACEi normalize the CXCR4 and AT1 receptor expression on progenitors, limiting their proliferation, concomitant with the regression of hyperplastic lesions in animals, and in a patient with crescentic glomerulopathy. Key Message: Understanding the molecular and cellular determinants of regeneration triggered by renoprotective drugs will reveal novel pathways that might be challenged or targeted by pharmacological therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalNephron - Experimental Nephrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Kidney regeneration
  • Renal progenitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Medicine(all)


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