Repair of injured proximal tubule does not involve specialized progenitors

Benjamin D. Humphreys, Suzanne Czerniak, Derek P. DiRocco, Wirasat Hasnain, Rabia Cheema, Joseph V. Bonventre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


Recently we have established that the kidney tubular epithelium is repaired by surviving epithelial cells. It is not known, however, whether a population of intratubular adult progenitor cells are responsible for this epithelial repair after acute kidney injury. In this study, we used an unbiased DNA analog-based approach that does not rely on candidate markers to track multiple rounds of cell division in vivo. In the proximal tubule, robust thymidine analog incorporation was observed postinjury. Cell division was stochastic and enriched among cells that were injured and dedifferentiated. There was no evidence for the presence of a population of specialized progenitors that repeatedly divide in response to injury. Instead, these results indicate that after injury, new epithelial cells arise from self-duplication of surviving cells, most of which are injured. Because the renal papilla contains DNA label-retaining cells and has been proposed as a stem cell niche, we examined the proliferative behavior of these putative progenitors after ischemia-reperfusion injury. Although label-retaining cells in the renal papilla diminished with time after ischemia-reperfusion injury, they neither proliferated nor migrated to the outer medulla or cortex. Thus, nonlethally injured cells repopulate the kidney epithelium after injury in the absence of any specialized progenitor cell population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9226-9231
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 31 2011


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