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Cytotherapy. 2012 Nov;14(10):1215-27. doi: 10.3109/14653249.2012.711471. Epub 2012 Aug 27.

The alleviation of acute and chronic kidney injury by human Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stromal cells triggered by ischemia-reperfusion injury via an endocrine mechanism.

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Department of Urology, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, PR China



The effects of human Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (WJ-MSC) on acute and chronic kidney injury induced by ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) were assessed.


WJ-MSC were injected intravenously immediately after solitary kidney ischemia for 45 min. Cells were labeled with 5-bromo-2'deoxy-uridine (BrdU) for tracing in vivo. At 48 h post-IRI, serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) were measured. Tubular cell proliferation and apoptosis as well as activation of the Akt signal were identified by immunostaining. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was employed to determine gene expression of inflammation-related cytokines and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Levels of human HGF were assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA). Twenty-two weeks later, renal fibrosis was assessed by Masson's tri-chrome staining, collagen content and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) staining.


There was no sign of labeled cells residing in the damaged kidney. Acute renal dysfunction elicited by IRI was considerably improved by WJ-MSC, in parallel with a stronger proliferative response and less apoptotic events. Additionally, phosphoAkt staining in injured tubular cells was substantially intensified. Cell treatment also caused a remarkable up-regulation of kidney interleukin (IL)-10, heme oxygenase (HO)-1 and HGF expression. Human HGF was detected in cell supernatants and the serum of cell-infused rats. Moreover, IRI-initiated fibrosis was abrogated by cell therapy, coincident with function amelioration.


WJ-MSC alleviate acute kidney injury, thereby rescuing the ensuing fibrotic lesions in an endocrine manner. The Akt signal in impaired tubular cells is reinforced by WJ-MSC, facilitating cell resistance to apoptosis and cell proliferation. HGF, either delivered or induced by WJ-MSC, is an important contributor.

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