Implementation of a human podocyte injury model of chronic kidney disease for profiling of renoprotective compounds

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Degradation of podocyte structural integrity and function are hallmarks of proteinuric chronic kidney disease. In vivo, injury of podocytes manifests itself in the form of disruption of foot process morphology and associated cytoskeletal architecture, de-differentiation, and loss of adhesion to the glomerular basement membrane. Given the critical role played by this highly specialized cell type in maintaining glomerular filtration, there is a need for improved physiologically relevant cellular models that enable detection of disease-relevant indicators of podocyte perturbation. We have addressed this need by evaluating a subclone of conditionally immortalized human podocytes through quantitative benchmarking against freshly isolated primary human podocytes. Benchmarking was performed by measuring key phenotypic parameters, expression of podocyte specific proteins and multiparametric responses to stressors that model different aspects of podocyte perturbation. We subsequently employed the subcloned cells to profile the protective activity of structurally distinct adenosine kinase inhibitors. Our results support the translatability of our cellular model and set the stage for broader screening of renoprotective compounds with a view to eventually treat proteinuric kidney disease.

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