Renal pericytes have been neglected for many years, but recently they have become an intensively studied cell population in renal biology and pathophysiology. Pericytes are stromal cells that support vasculature, and a subset of pericytes are mesenchymal stem cells. In kidney, pericytes have been reported to play critical roles in angiogenesis, regulation of renal medullary and cortical blood flow, and serve as progenitors of interstitial myofibroblasts in renal fibrogenesis. They interact with endothelial cells through distinct signaling pathways and their activation and detachment from capillaries after acute or chronic kidney injury may be critical for driving chronic kidney disease progression. By contrast, during kidney homeostasis it is likely that pericytes serve as a local stem cell population that replenishes differentiated interstitial and vascular cells lost during aging. This review describes both the regenerative properties of pericytes as well as involvement in pathophysiologic conditions such as fibrogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-383
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Nephrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Capillary rarefaction
  • Kidney fibrosis
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Pericytes


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