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Dev Dyn. 2013 Mar;242(3):219-29. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.23916. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Regeneration of functional pronephric proximal tubules after partial nephrectomy in Xenopus laevis.

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Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.



While the renal system is critical for maintaining homeostatic equilibrium within the body, it is also susceptible to various kinds of damage. Tubule dysfunction in particular contributes to acute renal injury and chronic kidney disease in millions of patients worldwide. Because current treatments are highly invasive and often unavailable, gaining a better understanding of the regenerative capacity of renal structures is vital. Although the effects of various types of acute damage have been previously studied, the ability of the excretory system to repair itself after dramatic tissue loss due to mechanical damage is less well characterized.


A novel unilateral nephrectomy technique was developed to excise pronephric proximal tubules from Xenopus laevis tadpoles to study tubule repair after injury. Immunohistochemical detection of protein expression and renal uptake assays demonstrated that X. laevis larvae have the capacity to regenerate functional proximal tubules following resection.


We have validated the renal identity of the restored tubules and demonstrated their ability to functional normally providing the first evidence of regeneration of renal tissue in an amphibian system. Importantly, this tubule restoration occurs by means of a process involving an early apoptotic event and the biphasic expression of the matrix metalloproteinase, Xmmp-9.

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