A common disease of the kidney is acute renal failure (ARF) that causes kidney damage and abnormal function. The kidney is capable of some regeneration and it was previously thought that stem cells from the bone marrow were at least partially responsible for this repair. Two new JCI studies now challenge this hypothesis.

In a new study appearing in the July 1 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Jeremy Duffield and colleagues from Harvard study kidney repair in mice harboring markers in their bone marrow. The researchers show that bone marrow-derived cells do not contribute to kidney repair after ARF. The marked cells were not incorporated into the injured kidney. The authors hypothesize that endogenous kidney cells instead are responsible for the repair seen. The second study, by Fangming Lin and colleagues from University of Texas, also shows that cells within the kidney are the main source of kidney repair. Moreover, injection of bone marrow cells does not make any significant contribution to functional or structural recovery.

In an accompanying commentary, Diane Kraus and Lloyd Cantley write, "the majority of the cells that…repair the injured tubules came from an endogenous cell population, rather than from bone marrow-derived cells." These results support the premise that the kidney has a stem cell niche of its own.

Stacie Bloom
Journal of Clinical Investigation

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