Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Insight into the function of cellular anatomical changes in kidney disease FSGS

04 April 2022

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Looking like a tangle of tubes, glomerular tufts are the functional units of your kidneys, filtering blood to create urine. The tufts form a filtration barrier using endothelial cells, podocytes and connective tissue, while parietal epithelial cells (PECs) line the capsules in which tufts sit – this anatomy is essential to proper kidney function. In the kidney disease focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), tufts become scarred – but only in parts, with some regions remaining healthy. Researchers investigate how in a mouse FSGS model. Using immunohistochemistry to identify PECs and podocytes in sections of FSGS kidneys, the images of which were then digitally ‘stitched together’, they found layers of PECs invaded scarred regions (pictured). However, this invasion also protected neighbouring regions by making contacts with podocytes to restore the filtration barrier. These healthy regions remained connected to the tube through which essential nutrients are filtered out. Together, this reveals how parts of FSGS kidneys can remain functional.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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