Stem cells in nephrology: present status and future
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Stem cell biology is currently developing rapidly because of the potential therapeutic utility of stem cells. The ability to acquire any desired phenotype raises hope for regenerative therapies. Manipulation of these cells is a potentially valuable tool; however, the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation and plasticity are currently beyond our control. In the field of nephrology, the presence of adult kidney stem cells has been debated. Renal adult stem cells may be descendants of some early kidney progenitors or may be derived from bone marrow. Evidence of a hematopoietic stem-cell contribution to renal repair encourages the possibility of bone marrow or stem cell transplantation as a means of treating autoimmune glomerulopathies. The transplantation of fetal kidney tissue containing renal progenitors which then develop into functional nephrons is a step towards renal regeneration. According to recent reports, the development of functional nephrons from human mesenchymal stem cells in rodent whole-embryo culture is possible. Establishing in vitro self organs from autologous stem cells would be a promising therapeutic solution in light of the shortage of allogenic organs and the unresolved problem of chronic allograft rejection.
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Marian Klinger, M.D. Ph.D., Department of Nephrology and Transplantation Medicine, Wroclaw Medical University, Romualda Traugutta 57/59, 50-417 Wroclaw, Poland