The regenerative potential of stem cells in acute renal failure

Marina Morigi, Ariela Benigni, Giuseppe Remuzzi, Barbara Imberti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adult stem cells have been characterized in several tissues as a subpopulation of cells able to maintain, generate, and replace terminally differentiated cells in response to physiological cell turnover or tissue injury. Little is known regarding the presence of stem cells in the adult kidney but it is documented that under certain conditions, such as the recovery from acute injury, the kidney can regenerate itself by increasing the proliferation of some resident cells. The origin of these cells is largely undefined; they are often considered to derive from resident renal stem or progenitor cells. Whether these immature cells are a subpopulation preserved from the early stage of nephrogenesis is still a matter of investigation and represents an attractive possibility. Moreover, the contribution of bone marrow-derived stem cells to renal cell turnover and regeneration has been suggested. In mice and humans, there is evidence that extrarenal cells of bone marrow origin take part in tubular epithelium regeneration. Injury to a target organ can be sensed by bone marrow stem cells that migrate to the site of damage, undergo differentiation, and promote structural and functional repair. Recent studies have demonstrated that hematopoietic stem cells were mobilized following ischemia/reperfusion and engrafted the kidney to differentiate into tubular epithelium in the areas of damage. The evidence that mesenchymal stem cells, by virtue of their renoprotective property, restore renal tubular structure and also ameliorate renal function during experimental acute renal failure provides opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Acute renal failure
  • Kidney repair
  • Stem cells
  • Tubular cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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