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Organogenesis. 2012 Apr-Jun;8(2):29-40. doi: 10.4161/org.20342. Epub 2012 Apr 1.

Four danger response programs determine glomerular and tubulointerstitial kidney pathology: clotting, inflammation, epithelial and mesenchymal healing.

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Nephrologisches Zentrum; Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV; Klinikum der Universität; München, Germany.


Renal biopsies commonly display tissue remodeling with a combination of many different findings. In contrast to trauma, kidney remodeling largely results from intrinsic responses, but why? Distinct danger response programs were positively selected throughout evolution to survive traumatic injuries and to regenerate tissue defects. These are: (1) clotting to avoid major bleeding, (2) immunity to control infection, (3) epithelial repair and (4) mesenchymal repair. Collateral damages are acceptable for the sake of host survival but causes for kidney injury commonly affect the kidneys in a diffuse manner. This way, coagulation, inflammation, deregulated epithelial healing or fibrosis contribute to kidney remodeling. Here, I focus on how these ancient danger response programs determine renal pathology mainly because they develop in a deregulated manner, either as insufficient or overshooting processes that modulate each other. From a therapeutic point of view, immunopathology can be prevented by suppressing sterile renal inflammation, a useless atavism with devastating consequences. In addition, it appears as an important goal for the future to promote podocyte and tubular epithelial cell repair, potentially by stimulating the differentiation of their newly discovered intrarenal progenitor cells. By contrast, it is still unclear whether selectively targeting renal fibrogenesis can preserve or bring back lost renal parenchyma, which would be required to maintain or improve kidney function. Thus, renal pathology results from ancient danger responses that evolved because of their evolutional benefits upon trauma. Understanding these causalities may help to shape the search for novel treatments for kidney disease patients.

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