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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006 Jan;38(1):1-5. Epub 2005 Sep 28.

The renal cortical fibroblast in renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, Kolling Institute, Level 3, Wallace Freeborn Professorial Block, Royal North Shore Hospital, St. Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia.


Renal cortical fibroblasts have key roles in mediating intercellular communication with neighboring/infiltrating cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) and maintenance of renal tissue architecture. They express a variety of cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and cell adhesion molecules, playing an active role in paracrine and autocrine interactions and regulating both fibrogenesis and the interstitial inflammatory response. They additionally have an endocrine function in the production of epoetin. Tubulointerstitial fibrosis, the common pathological consequence of renal injury, is characterized by the accumulation of extracellular matrix largely due to excessive production in parallel with reduced degradation, and activated fibroblasts characterized by a myofibroblastic phenotype. Fibroblasts in the kidney may derive from resident fibroblasts, from the circulating fibroblast population or from haemopoetic progenitor or stromal cells derived from the bone marrow. Cells exhibiting a myofibroblastic phenotype may derive from these sources and from tubular cells undergoing epithelial to mesenchymal transformation in response to renal injury. The number of interstitial myofibroblasts correlates closely with tubulointerstitial fibrosis and progressive renal failure. Hence inhibiting myofibroblast formation may be an effective strategy in attenuating the development of renal failure in kidney disease of diverse etiology.

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