Concise review: Kidney stem/progenitor cells: Differentiate, sort out, or reprogram?

Oren Pleniceanu, Orit Harari-Steinberg, Benjamin Dekel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is defined as the inability of the kidneys to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood. ESRD progresses from earlier stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and occurs when the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is below 15 ml/minute/1.73 m2. CKD and ESRD are dramatically rising due to increasing aging population, population demographics, and the growing rate of diabetes and hypertension. Identification of multipotential stem/progenitor populations in mammalian tissues is important for therapeutic applications and for understanding developmental processes and tissue homeostasis. Progenitor populations are ideal targets for gene therapy, cell transplantation, and tissue engineering. The demand for kidney progenitors is increasing due to severe shortage of donor organs. Because dialysis and transplantation are currently the only successful therapies for ESRD, cell therapy offers an alternative approach for kidney diseases. However, this approach may be relevant only in earlier stages of CKD, when kidney function and histology are still preserved, allowing for the integration of cells and/or for their paracrine effects, but not when small and fibrotic end-stage kidneys develop. Although blood- and bone marrow-derived stem cells hold a therapeutic promise, they are devoid of nephrogenic potential, emphasizing the need to seek kidney stem cells beyond known extrarenal sources. Moreover, controversies regarding the existence of a true adult kidney stem cell highlight the importance of studying cell-based therapies using pluripotent cells, progenitor cells from fetal kidney, or dedifferentiated/reprogrammed adult kidney cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1649-1660
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Adult stem cells
  • Cell surface markers
  • Cellular therapy
  • Developmental biology
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Fetal stem cells
  • Kidney


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