Podocytes and Proteinuric Kidney Disease

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Glomerular disease is the most common cause of endstage renal disease (ESRD), accounting for almost two thirds of cases. In glomerular disease, alterations of po-docytes are of particular importance. Podocyte loss represents a central mediator of glomerular sclerosis. Toxic, genetic, immune, infectious, oxidant, metabolic, hemody-namic, and other mechanisms can all target the podo-cytes. These mechanisms provide new insight into the unique dynamic microenvironment that each individual podocyte inhabits and how it can turn hostile to survival. At the same time, they raise new therapeutic challenges to preserve glomerular function by containing podocyte injury and limiting its spread, both in podo-cytopathies and in other progressive glomerular diseases. Treatment strategies should aim at enhancing podocyte survival. The renin-angiotensin axis blockade, apart from its antifibrotic and intraglomerular hemodynamic effects, has an important role in preventing podocyte loss. However, only long-term observational studies can clarify if many patients will benefit from podocyte-targeted treatment such as abatacept or similar agents.

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