Fetal kidney cells may contain multiple populations of kidney stem cells and thus appear to be a suitable cellular therapy for the treatment of acute renal failure (ARF) but their biological characteristics and therapeutic potential have not been adequately explored. We have culture expanded fetal kidney cells derived from rat fetal kidneys, characterized them and evaluated their therapeutic effect in an ischemia reperfusion (IR) induced rat model of ARF. The fetal kidney cells grew in culture as adherent spindle shaped/polygonal cells and expressed CD29, CD44, CD73, CD90, CD105, CD24 and CD133 markers. Administration of PKH26 labeled fetal kidney cells in ARF rats resulted in a significant decrease in the levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and decreased tubular necrosis in the kidney tissues (p<0.05 for all). The injected fetal kidney cells were observed to engraft around injured tubular cells, and there was increased proliferation and decreased apoptosis of tubular cells in the kidneys (p<0.05 for both). In addition, the kidney tissues of ARF rats treated with fetal kidney cells had a higher gene expression of renotropic growth factors (VEGF-A, IGF-1, BMP-7 and bFGF) and anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL10); up regulation of anti-oxidative markers (HO-1 and NQO-1); and a lower Bax/Bcl2 ratio as compared to saline treated rats (p<0.05 for all). Our data shows that culture expanded fetal kidney cells express mesenchymal and renal progenitor markers, and ameliorate ischemic ARF predominantly by their anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas