Healing Kidneys with Kidneys

Stem cell transplants may repair kidney damage

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Transplanting kidney stem cells taken from self-donors may improve kidney function after kidney damage from pyelonephritis, a kind of urinary infection that has reached the kidney.

Researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences transplanted kidney stem cells called autologous renal progenitor cells (RPCs) into rat models that had suffered kidney damage from pyelonephritis - an infection characterized by acute inflammation, impaired renal function, and scarring. The researchers observed improved kidney structure and function among the rats after the transplant.

For the study, Dr. Abdol-Mohammad Kajbafzadeh and colleagues separated 27 rats into three groups. The first two groups were infected with pyelonephritis, while the third group did not have the disease. Stem cells were taken from the sick animals' left kidneys, then injected into their right kidneys six weeks later.

Two weeks following the injection, the researchers observed a reduction in tubular atrophy. Four weeks later, they saw a reduction in fibrosis - the scarring of the kidney tissues because of kidney dysfunction or injury. Sixty days after the injection, the researchers say that the integrity of renal tissue was "significantly improved."

Renal fibrosis commonly leads to end-stage renal disease, a disease characterized by the near complete failure of kidney function. The disease affects more than 527,000 US residents. In 2007, 87,812 patients died while undergoing treatment for end-stage renal disease.

The improved kidney structure and function following the stem cell transplant is promising. According to Dr. Amit Patel, Section Editor of Cell Medicine and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Utah, this is one of the first studies to show an improvement in renal function after cell transplantation. As such, the study's findings will likely contribute to further research in larger-scale studies.

The study is published in Cell Medicine.

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Review Date: 
February 15, 2011
Last Updated:
February 16, 2011