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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Oct;20(10):2112-7. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2009010066. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Is there such a thing as a renal stem cell?

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.


Increasing interest in the potential of adult stem cells in regenerative medicine has led to numerous studies focused on the identification of endogenous renal stem cells within the mature mammalian kidney. A variety of approaches have been taken to identify such cells, including physical location, cell surface marker expression, and functional properties. Proof of clonogenicity or renal potential remains questionable, and few such populations have been characterized in humans; however, recent evidence that even podocytes, a cell type with limited proliferative capacity under normal conditions, are constantly regenerated from a population within the Bowman's capsule has breathed new life into the quest for a renal stem cell. Here we examine whether current evidence is sufficient to conclude such a population does indeed exist or whether the jury is still out. We also ask which properties we would wish such a cell to possess to allow for repair of the diseased kidney.

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