Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Podocytes and Podocytopathies

Kidneys play a vital role in excretion and water/fluid volume regulation. Glomeruli are the filtration units of nephrons in the kidneys and these contain cellular and non cellular components in addition to capillary space and urinary space. Podocytes (cells with pedicles or feet) are post-mitotic epithelial cells resting in the urinary space of glomeruli. The number, size and morphology of podocytes are influenced by biochemical, immunological, therapeutic and genetic factors. According to the old classification of renal disorders, the patients having nephrotic syndrome can be grouped into two groups: (1) Non-immune complex mediated nephrotic syndrome, and (2) Immune complex mediated nephrotic syndrome. Now, patients with non-immune complex mediated nephrotic syndrome may have three possible diagnoses:

  1. Minimal change disease: Wherein morphologic evaluation of the renal biopsy (kidney biopsy) by light microscopy does not exhibit any glomerular damage. However, extensive effacement of foot processes of podocytes can be revealed by electron microscopy.
  2. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS): Wherein segmental sclerosis/solidification of the glomerular tuft, along with hyalinosis and adhesion of tuft to the Bowman's capsule is exhibited on the renal biopsy (kidney biopsy) evaluation by light microscopy. In these cases, variable degree of foot process effacement can be revealed by electron microscopy.
  3. Collapsing glomerulopathy: FSGS associated with the rapid deterioration of renal function was described as "Malignant FSGS" in 1978. During HIV pandemic in 1980's the associated nephropathy showing collapse of glomerular capillary wall along with increased cellularity in the urinary space was termed as HIV associated nephropathy (HIV-AN). Collapsing glomerulopathy was first time described in non-HIV patients in 1986 by Weiss and associates.

Now we know that podocyte number and effacement of their foot processes due to genetic or biological factors are very much associated with the primary nephrotic syndrome or proteinuric renal disorders. The etiology and pathogenic mechanisms are known to influence the morphologic diagnosis of podocytopathies. Podocytopathies are proteinuric renal disorders caused due to intrinsic or extrinsic podocyte injury exhibited by variable degree of foot process effacement and altered genotypic and/or phenotypic expression. Podocytes may reorganize their foot processes (altered cell morphology without change in cell count/number). There may be decreased number of podocytes (podocytopenia) if the injured podocytes die. There may be podocyte developmental arrest as seen in congenital nephrotic syndrome of Finnish type (CNF). Podocytes may dedifferentiate and proliferate under genetic, immunological, viral or therapeutic insult and re-enter the cell cycle despite the fact that podocytes are post-mitotic cells. Two electron micrographs are exhibited below to illustrate the normal (Figure-1) and increased number(Figure-2) podocytes in the urinary space of glomeruli from different cases.

Figure-1: Electron micrograph through a portion of glomerulus from a case of minimal change disease showing normal number of podocytes. (GBM: glomerular basement membrane, CL: capillary lumen, EnC: Endothelial cell, US: urinary space and Pc: podocyte)

Figure-2: Electron micrograph through a portion of glomerulus from a case of podocytopathy showing increased number of podocytes. (GBM: glomerular basement membrane, CL: capillary lumen, US: urinary space and Pc: podocytes)

1 comment:

Maniapal-International said...

Yes i agree with this Article...kidney dialysis is not ordinary thing.....But in manipal international patient care has very high Infrastructure and doctors with equipments for kidney dialysis cost in India