Podocytes: A new player for glutamate signaling

S. Armelloni, M. Li, P. Messa, M. P. Rastaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the renal glomerulus, podocytes envelop the external side of the capillary basement membrane with their intertwining ramifications, and ensure elimination of metabolic waste within the urine, while proteins and important blood components are retained into the circulation. To preserve the integrity of the glomerular filter, which is constantly exposed to a high variety of stimuli, podocytes need to communicate by rapid and precise signaling, likely similar to that used by neuronal cells. In the last years, we and others have shown that podocytes are indeed molecularly equipped for communicating in a synaptic-like way, where glutamate and its receptors seem to have a pivotal role, because altering glutamatergic communication leads to podocyte damage and increased filter permeability. Major components of glutamatergic signaling are organized at foot process junctions by adhesion molecules, chiefly by nephrin, and are connected to the actin cytoskeleton, that governs the health of podocytes. Further advances in understanding podocyte physiological behavior and signaling properties have the potential to improve the knowledge of podocyte diseases, first among them idiopathic focal segmental glomerulosclerosis that still needs more precise molecular-based diagnosis and targeted treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2272-2277
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Foot processes
  • Nephrin
  • Neurotransmitter receptors
  • Podocyte
  • Vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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