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Romoli, Simone; Angelotti, Maria Lucia; Antonelli, Giulia; Kumar, Santhosh V. R.; Mulay, Shrikant R.; Desai, Jyaysi; Gomez, Lidia Anguiano; Thomasova, Dana; Eulberg, Dirk; Klussmann, Sven; Melica, Maria Elena; Conte, Carolina; Lombardi, Duccio; Lasagni, Laura; Anders, Hans-Joachim; Romagnani, Paola (2018): CXCL12 blockade preferentially regenerates lost podocytes in cortical nephrons by targeting an intrinsic podocyte-progenitor feedback mechanism. In: Kidney International, Vol. 94, No. 6: pp. 1111-1126
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Insufficient podocyte regeneration after injury is a central pathomechanism of glomerulosclerosis and chronic kidney disease. Podocytes constitutively secrete the chemokine CXCL12, which is known to regulate homing and activation of stem cells;hence we hypothesized a similar effect of CXCL12 on podocyte progenitors. CXCL12 blockade increased podocyte numbers and attenuated proteinuria in mice with Adriamycin-induced nephropathy. Similar studies in lineage-tracing mice revealed enhanced de novo podocyte formation from parietal epithelial cells in the setting of CXCL12 blockade. Super-resolution microscopy documented full integration of these progenitor-derived podocytes into the glomerular filtration barrier, interdigitating with tertiary foot processes of neighboring podocytes. Quantitative 3D analysis revealed that conventional 2D analysis underestimated the numbers of progenitor-derived podocytes. The 3D analysis also demonstrated differences between juxtamedullary and cortical nephrons in both progenitor endowment and Adriamycin-induced podocyte loss, with more robust podocyte regeneration in cortical nephrons with CXCL12 blockade. Finally, we found that delayed CXCL12 inhibition still had protective effects. In vitro studies found that CXCL12 inhibition uncoupled Notch signaling in podocyte progenitors. These data suggest that CXCL12-driven podocyte-progenitor feedback maintains progenitor quiescence during homeostasis, but also limits their intrinsic capacity to regenerate lost podocytes, especially in cortical nephrons. CXCL12 inhibition could be an innovative therapeutic strategy in glomerular disorders.