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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2018 Jul 1;33(7):1094-1102. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfx211.

Transcriptomics in kidney biopsy is an untapped resource for precision therapy in nephrology: a systematic review.

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University of Bari, Bari, Italy.
Schena Foundation, Valenzano, Italy.
Nephrology Department, Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania.
Methods Support Team ERBP, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



The diagnosis of glomerular diseases is based on the evaluation of histological lesions in renal tissue by means of light and electronic microscopy, and immunofluorescence technique. Frozen and archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded kidney biopsies represent a stored resource for high-throughput technologies. Transcriptomics makes it possible to study the whole gene-expression profile of cells and tissues in a specific period and/or condition. The results, whether considered alone or integrated with other omics data, could help to improve existing knowledge about the pathogenetic mechanisms of glomerulopathies.


This review describes the molecular analysis of histological lesions obtained by transcriptomics in glomerular diseases, such as minimal change disease, focal and segmental glomerular sclerosis, IgA nephropathy, lupus nephritis and diabetic nephropathy.


Of 716 articles obtained through database searches, 19 relevant articles were considered for the systematic review. Transcriptomics in kidney biopsy from patients with glomerular diseases have generated new insights on a few promising genes, illustrated in each disease section, which may be considered important targets for the care of these diseases.


Transcriptomics is an untapped resource for precision nephrology. Moreover, the integration of transcriptomics and systems pharmacology could predict the best drug combination to revert a pathological condition by targeting disease-specific molecular networks.


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