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Shankland, Stuart J.; Anders, Hans-Joachim; Romagnani, Paola (May 2013): Glomerular parietal epithelial cells in kidney physiology, pathology, and repair. In: Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, Vol. 22, No. 3: pp. 302-309




Purpose of review We have summarized recently published glomerular parietal epithelial cell (PEC) research, focusing on their roles in glomerular development and physiology, and in certain glomerular diseases. The rationale is that PECs have been largely ignored until the recent availability of cell lineage tracing studies, human and murine PEC culture systems, and potential therapeutic interventions of PECs. Recent findings Several new paradigms involving PECs have emerged demonstrating their significant contribution to glomerular physiology and numerous glomerular diseases. A subset of PECs serving as podocyte progenitors have been identified in normal human glomeruli. They provide a source for podocytes in adolescent mice, and their numbers increase in states of podocyte depletion. PEC progenitor number is increased by retinoids and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition. However, dysregulated growth of PEC progenitors leads to pseudo-crescent and crescent formation. In focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, considered a podocyte disease, activated PECs increase extracellular matrix production, which leads to synechial attachment and, when they move to the glomerular tuft, to segmental glomerulosclerosis. Finally, PECs might be adversely affected in proteinuric states by undergoing apoptosis. Summary PECs play a critical role in glomerular repair through their progenitor function, but under certain circumstances paradoxically contribute to deterioration by augmenting scarring and crescent formation.