In a new study, scientists found that transplanting autologous renal progenitor cells (RPCs), (kidney stem cells derived from self-donors), into rat models with kidney damage from pyelonephritis – a type of urinary infection that has reached the kidney – improved kidney structure and function.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences.
“Advancements in stem cell therapies and tissue engineering hold great promise for regenerative nephrology,” said Abdol-Mohammad Kajbafzadeh, corresponding author.
“Our RPC transplant study demonstrated benefits for pyelonephritis, a disease characterized by severe inflammation, renal function impairment and eventual scarring, and which remains a major cause of end-stage-renal disease worldwide,” he said.
The researchers divided 27 rats into three groups, two of which were modeled with an induced pyelonephritis in their right kidneys, while the third group did not have induced disease.
RPCs were obtained from the diseased animals” left kidneys and injected into the right kidney six weeks later. Two weeks after injection, tubular atrophy was reduced. After four weeks, fibrosis was reduced and after sixty days, right renal tissue integrity was “significantly improved.”
“We propose that kidney augmentation was mainly due to functional tissue regeneration following cellular transplantation,” said Kajbafzadeh.
“Kidney-specific stem/progenitor cells might be the most appropriate candidates for transplantation because of their inherent organ-specific differentiation and their capacity to modulate tissue remodeling in chronic nephropathies,” he said.
The researchers concluded that because renal fibrosis is a common and ultimate pathway leading to end-stage renal disease, amelioration of fibrosis might be of major clinical relevance.
The finding appeared in the current issue of Cell Medicine.