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      Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Diabetic Nephropathy: Fact or Fiction?

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          Abstract

          The pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy (DN), one of the most serious complications in diabetic patients and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease worldwide, is complex and not fully elucidated. A typical hallmark of DN is the excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the glomerulus and in the renal tubulointerstitium, eventually leading to glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis. Although it is obvious that myofibroblasts play a major role in the synthesis and secretion of ECM, the origin of myofibroblasts in DN remains the subject of controversial debates. A number of studies have focused on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as one source of matrix-generating fibroblasts in the diseased kidney. EMT is characterized by the acquisition of mesenchymal properties by epithelial cells, preferentially proximal tubular cells and podocytes. In this review we comprehensively review the literature and discuss arguments both for and against a function of EMT in renal fibrosis in DN. While the precise extent of the contribution to nephrotic fibrosis is certainly arduous to quantify, the picture that emerges from this extensive body of literature suggests EMT as a major source of myofibroblasts in DN.

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          Most cited references 68

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          Origin and function of myofibroblasts in kidney fibrosis.

          Myofibroblasts are associated with organ fibrosis, but their precise origin and functional role remain unknown. We used multiple genetically engineered mice to track, fate map and ablate cells to determine the source and function of myofibroblasts in kidney fibrosis. Through this comprehensive analysis, we identified that the total pool of myofibroblasts is split, with 50% arising from local resident fibroblasts through proliferation. The nonproliferating myofibroblasts derive through differentiation from bone marrow (35%), the endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition program (10%) and the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition program (5%). Specific deletion of Tgfbr2 in α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA)(+) cells revealed the importance of this pathway in the recruitment of myofibroblasts through differentiation. Using genetic mouse models and a fate-mapping strategy, we determined that vascular pericytes probably do not contribute to the emergence of myofibroblasts or fibrosis. Our data suggest that targeting diverse pathways is required to substantially inhibit the composite accumulation of myofibroblasts in kidney fibrosis.
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            BMP-7 counteracts TGF-beta1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and reverses chronic renal injury.

            Bone morphogenic protein (BMP)-7 is a 35-kDa homodimeric protein and a member of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily. BMP-7 expression is highest in the kidney, and its genetic deletion in mice leads to severe impairment of eye, skeletal and kidney development. Here we report that BMP-7 reverses TGF-beta1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by reinduction of E-cadherin, a key epithelial cell adhesion molecule. Additionally, we provide molecular evidence for Smad-dependent reversal of TGF-beta1-induced EMT by BMP-7 in renal tubular epithelial cells and mammary ductal epithelial cells. In the kidney, EMT-induced accumulation of myofibroblasts and subsequent tubular atrophy are considered key determinants of renal fibrosis during chronic renal injury. We therefore tested the potential of BMP-7 to reverse TGF-beta1-induced de novo EMT in a mouse model of chronic renal injury. Our results show that systemic administration of recombinant human BMP-7 leads to repair of severely damaged renal tubular epithelial cells, in association with reversal of chronic renal injury. Collectively, these results provide evidence of cross talk between BMP-7 and TGF-beta1 in the regulation of EMT in health and disease.
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              Mechanisms of tubulointerstitial fibrosis.

              The pathologic paradigm for renal progression is advancing tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Whereas mechanisms underlying fibrogenesis have grown in scope and understanding in recent decades, effective human treatment to directly halt or even reverse fibrosis remains elusive. Here, we examine key features mediating the molecular and cellular basis of tubulointerstitial fibrosis and highlight new insights that may lead to novel therapies. How to prevent chronic kidney disease from progressing to renal failure awaits even deeper biochemical understanding.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Cells
                Cells
                cells
                Cells
                MDPI
                2073-4409
                09 October 2015
                December 2015
                : 4
                : 4
                : 631-652
                Affiliations
                Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital, University of Jena, Erlanger Allee 101, D-07747 Jena, Germany
                Author notes
                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: Gunter.Wolf@ 123456med.uni-jena.de ; Tel.: +49-3641-9324301; Fax: +49-3641-9324302.
                Article
                cells-04-00631
                10.3390/cells4040631
                4695850
                26473930
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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