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Annu Rev Physiol. 2010;72:357-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.010908.163245.

Cellular maintenance and repair of the kidney.

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Section of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The mammalian kidney is a highly complex organ that requires the precise structural arrangement of multiple cell types for effective function. The need to filter large volumes of plasma at the glomerulus followed by active reabsorption of nearly 99% of that filtrate by the tubules creates vulnerability in both compartments for cell injury. Thus maintenance of cell viability and replacement of those cells that are lost are essential for functional stability of the kidney. This review addresses our current understanding of how cells from the glomerular, tubular, and interstitial compartments arise during development and the manner in which they may be regenerated in the adult organ. In addition, we discuss the data regarding the role of organ-specific and bone marrow-derived stem and progenitor cells in the replacement/repair process, as well as the potential for ex vivo programming of stem cells toward a renal lineage.

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