Stem Cells Can Support Kidney Function

The kidneys play an essential role in filtering and cleansing the blood, as well as in maintaining the proper salinity of the blood, which, in turn, is essential not only for optimal cellular function, but for survival as a whole. One cannot live for more than a week without kidney function.

A Genius Invention of Nature

The kidneys are a great achievement of biological engineering. It is nearly impossible for the kidneys to identify all of the molecules that must be eliminated, but it is simple to eliminate all of them and then selectively recapture what the body needs. That’s how the kidneys work. In a nutshell, the main structure of the kidney is the nephron, which comprises the glomerulus and the tubule. The glomerulus is a small network of very porous blood vessels. As the blood passes through the glomerulus, a lot of water leaks out along with minerals and other chemicals dissolved in the blood. This water then circulates down the tubule where it is exposed to a concentration gradient that recaptures the water through osmosis, along with nutrients and key minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium. In this manner, what the body doesn’t need ends up being eliminated in the urine, and the balanced retention of specific minerals helps maintain the blood’s salinity and pH.

Kidney Failure is a Secondary Problem

Let’s be clear, any dysfunction of the kidneys is of primary importance, but kidney problems normally do not occur unless something else goes wrong; they are secondary problems. The main causes of kidney problems are high blood pressure that overpowers the small structures of the kidneys and diabetes that overloads the kidneys with long-term exposure to Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGEs are formed when excess glucose in the blood reacts with proteins. The resulting AGEs are filtered by the kidneys, but long-term exposure to AGEs leads to a form of sclerosis of the glomeruli, which reduces in kidney function and in turn, leads to more exposure to unfiltered AGEs.[1] So the first steps in maintaining good kidney health are to maintain a good cardiovascular health, to not develop diabetes, and to avoid exposure to toxins that can damage the kidneys.

Stem Cells and Kidney Function

When kidney function has begun to decline, there is little that medicine can do. The only approach is to reduce the burden on the kidneys by reducing blood pressure, controlling blood glucose, and relieving the effects of poor kidney function such as water accumulation and swelling, but no matter the case, it is a downward spiral that leads almost inevitably to dialysis.

As with everything else, when the potential of adult stem cells was revealed in the early 2000’s, scientists began to look at the potential use of stem cells to improve kidney function. As with the heart, the brain and the pancreas, the kidneys are not traditionally known to have the ability of repairing or regenerating. But studying female patients who had received bone marrow transplants from male donors, it was found that cells containing the Y-chromosome (meaning that they were derived from the transplanted stem cells) were found in both the glomeruli and tubules.[2] In fact, this group of scientists reported that up to 8% of the tubular epithelial cells were derived from stem cells, revealing a turnover rate and an ability to repair that had never been seen before.

Endogenous Stem Cell Mobilization (ESCM) Can Support Kidney Function

Understanding that stem cells can become kidney cells and that this phenomenon is taking place naturally in the body, scientists began to study whether simply enhancing the release of one’s own bone marrow stem cells could help improve kidney function.

Several studies have indeed documented that stimulating the release of stem cells from the bone marrow can help improve kidney functions,[3],[4] though the actual mechanism is still not fully understood. While it is clear that many stem cells actually transform into cells of the kidney, it appears that a significant part of the repair process takes place through the secretion of cytokines or growth factors by stem cells, which in turn stimulates the intrinsic ability of the kidney to repair.[5],[6] In other words, the kidneys have the ability to regenerate, but for some reason this capacity remains dormant. As stem cells migrate into the kidneys, they secrete compounds that stimulate the ability of the kidneys to regenerate. But in the end, the mechanism is less important than the outcome; if releasing one’s own stem cells can ultimately lead to kidney repair, then that’s all that matters!

Similar data has been reported when kidney failure results from an acute exposure to toxic compounds. Increasing the number of circulating stem cells through the release of one’s own bone marrow stem cells has been documented to improve kidney function.[7],[8]

Conclusion

While the kidney remains an organ that is difficult to regenerate, tapping into the potential of adult stem cells provide great promise for people with kidney problems. In fact, the simple release of one’s own stem cells using a natural stem cell enhancer could help improve kidney function.[9]

A Genius Invention of Nature

The kidneys are a great achievement of biological engineering. It is nearly impossible for the kidneys to identify all of the molecules that must be eliminated, but it is simple to eliminate all of them and then selectively recapture what the body needs. That’s how the kidneys work. In a nutshell, the main structure of the kidney is the nephron, which comprises the glomerulus and the tubule. The glomerulus is a small network of very porous blood vessels. As the blood passes through the glomerulus, a lot of water leaks out along with minerals and other chemicals dissolved in the blood. This water then circulates down the tubule where it is exposed to a concentration gradient that recaptures the water through osmosis, along with nutrients and key minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium. In this manner, what the body doesn’t need ends up being eliminated in the urine, and the balanced retention of specific minerals helps maintain the blood’s salinity and pH.

Kidney Failure is a Secondary Problem

Let’s be clear, any dysfunction of the kidneys is of primary importance, but kidney problems normally do not occur unless something else goes wrong; they are secondary problems. The main causes of kidney problems are high blood pressure that overpowers the small structures of the kidneys and diabetes that overloads the kidneys with long-term exposure to Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGEs are formed when excess glucose in the blood reacts with proteins. The resulting AGEs are filtered by the kidneys, but long-term exposure to AGEs leads to a form of sclerosis of the glomeruli, which reduces in kidney function and in turn, leads to more exposure to unfiltered AGEs.[1] So the first steps in maintaining good kidney health are to maintain a good cardiovascular health, to not develop diabetes, and to avoid exposure to toxins that can damage the kidneys.

Stem Cells and Kidney Function

When kidney function has begun to decline, there is little that medicine can do. The only approach is to reduce the burden on the kidneys by reducing blood pressure, controlling blood glucose, and relieving the effects of poor kidney function such as water accumulation and swelling, but no matter the case, it is a downward spiral that leads almost inevitably to dialysis.

As with everything else, when the potential of adult stem cells was revealed in the early 2000’s, scientists began to look at the potential use of stem cells to improve kidney function. As with the heart, the brain and the pancreas, the kidneys are not traditionally known to have the ability of repairing or regenerating. But studying female patients who had received bone marrow transplants from male donors, it was found that cells containing the Y-chromosome (meaning that they were derived from the transplanted stem cells) were found in both the glomeruli and tubules.[2] In fact, this group of scientists reported that up to 8% of the tubular epithelial cells were derived from stem cells, revealing a turnover rate and an ability to repair that had never been seen before.

Endogenous Stem Cell Mobilization (ESCM) Can Support Kidney Function

Understanding that stem cells can become kidney cells and that this phenomenon is taking place naturally in the body, scientists began to study whether simply enhancing the release of one’s own bone marrow stem cells could help improve kidney function.

Several studies have indeed documented that stimulating the release of stem cells from the bone marrow can help improve kidney functions,[3],[4] though the actual mechanism is still not fully understood. While it is clear that many stem cells actually transform into cells of the kidney, it appears that a significant part of the repair process takes place through the secretion of cytokines or growth factors by stem cells, which in turn stimulates the intrinsic ability of the kidney to repair.[5],[6] In other words, the kidneys have the ability to regenerate, but for some reason this capacity remains dormant. As stem cells migrate into the kidneys, they secrete compounds that stimulate the ability of the kidneys to regenerate. But in the end, the mechanism is less important than the outcome; if releasing one’s own stem cells can ultimately lead to kidney repair, then that’s all that matters!

Similar data has been reported when kidney failure results from an acute exposure to toxic compounds. Increasing the number of circulating stem cells through the release of one’s own bone marrow stem cells has been documented to improve kidney function.[7],[8]

Conclusion

While the kidney remains an organ that is difficult to regenerate, tapping into the potential of adult stem cells provide great promise for people with kidney problems. In fact, the simple release of one’s own stem cells using a natural stem cell enhancer could help improve kidney function.[9]

Click to expand sources (1 to 9)

[1] Advanced glycation end products and the kidney.

Bohlender JM, Franke S, Stein G, Wolf G.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2005 Oct;289(4):F645-59. 

 

[2] Bone marrow contributes to renal parenchymal turnover and regeneration.

Poulsom R, Forbes SJ, Hodivala-Dilke K, Ryan E, Wyles S, Navaratnarasah S, Jeffery R, Hunt T, Alison M, Cook T, Pusey C, Wright NA.

J Pathol. 2001 Sep;195(2):229-35.

 

[3] Bone marrow stem cells contribute to healing of the kidney.

Poulsom R, Alison MR, Cook T, Jeffery R, Ryan E, Forbes SJ, Hunt T, Wyles S, Wright NA.

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003 Jun;14 Suppl 1:S48-54.

 

[4] Stem Cell Mobilizers: Novel Therapeutics for Acute Kidney Injury.

Xu Y, Zeng S, Zhang Q, Zhang Z, Hu X.

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2017;18(12):1195-1199.

 

[5] Contribution of stem cells to kidney repair.

Bussolati B, Hauser PV, Carvalhosa R, Camussi G.

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2009 Jan;4(1):2-8. 

 

[6] Hematopoietic stem cell mobilization therapy accelerates recovery of renal function independent of stem cell contribution.

Stokman G, Leemans JC, Claessen N, Weening JJ, Florquin S.

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005 Jun;16(6):1684-92.

 

[7] Mobilization of bone marrow cells by G-CSF rescues mice from cisplatin-induced renal failure, and M-CSF enhances the effects of G-CSF.

Iwasaki M, Adachi Y, Minamino K, Suzuki Y, Zhang Y, Okigaki M, Nakano K, Koike Y, Wang J, Mukaide H, Taketani S, Mori Y, Takahashi H, Iwasaka T, Ikehara S.

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005 Mar;16(3):658-66.

 

[8] Effect of stem cell factor and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-induced bone marrow stem cell mobilization on recovery from acute tubular necrosis in rats.

Zhang H, Bai H, Yi Z, He X, Mo S.

Ren Fail. 2012;34(3):350-7.

 

[9] The Therapeutic Potential of Stimulating Endogenous Stem Cell Mobilization.  In: Tissue Regeneration – From Basic Biology to Clinical Application.  Drapeau C, Eufemio G, Mazzoni P, Roth GD and Strandberg, S.  InTech Open, 2012.

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