DOI: 10.1093/ndt/gfad257 ISSN: 0931-0509

Cell-cell communication in kidney fibrosis

Meizhi He, Zhao Liu, Li Li, Youhua Liu
  • Transplantation
  • Nephrology


Kidney fibrosis is a common outcome of a wide variety of chronic kidney diseases, in which virtually all kinds of renal resident and infiltrating cells are involved. As such, well-orchestrated intercellular communication is of vital importance in coordinating complex actions during renal fibrogenesis. Cell-cell communication in multicellular organisms is traditionally assumed to be mediated by direct cell contact or soluble factors, including growth factors, cytokines and chemokines, through autocrine, paracrine, endocrine and juxtacrine signaling mechanisms. Growing evidence also demonstrates that extracellular vesicles, naturally released lipid bilayer-encircled particles from almost all types of cells, can act as a vehicle to transfer a diverse array of biomolecules including proteins, mRNA, miRNA and lipids to mediate cell-cell communication. We recently described a new mode of intercellular communication via building a special extracellular niche by insoluble matricellular proteins. Kidney cells, upon injury, produce and secrete different matricellular proteins, which incorporate into local extracellular matrix network, and regulate the behavior, trajectory and fate of neighboring cells in a spatially confined fashion. This extracellular niche-mediated cell-cell communication is unique in that it restrains the crosstalk between cells within a particular locality. Detailed delineation of this unique manner of intercellular communication will help to elucidate the mechanism of kidney fibrosis and could offer novel insights in developing therapeutic intervention.

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