Not all renal stem cell niches are the same: anatomy of an evolution

Clara Gerosa, Vassilios Fanos, Melania Puddu, Giovanni Ottonello, Gavino Faa, Bernadette Pinna, Peter Van Eyken, Daniela Fanni


The renal stem cell niche represents the most important structure of the developing kidney, responsible for nephrogenesis. Recently, some Authors have reported, at ultrastructural level, a previously unknown complexity of the architecture of renal stem cell niche in experimental models. This study was aimed at studying, at histological level, the anatomy of renal stem cell niches in the human fetal kidney. To this end, ten fetal kidneys, whose gestational ages ranged from 11 up to 24 weeks, were studied. H&E-stained sections were observed at high power. The study of the anatomy of renal stem cell niches in the human kidney revealed a previously unreported complexity: some niches appeared as a roundish arrangement of mesenchymal cells; others showed the initial phases of induction by ureteric buds; in other niches the process of mesenchymal epithelial transition was more evident; finally, in other stem cell niches the first signs of nephron origin were detectable. These findings suggest the existence of niches with different anatomy in the same kidney, indicating different stages of evolution even in adjacent niches. All stem cell niches were in strict contact with the capsular cells, suggesting a major role of the renal capsule in nephrogenesis. Finally, our study confirms the existence of a strict contact between the bud tip cells and the surrounding mesenchyme in the human developing kidney, giving a morphological support to the theory of intercellular channels allowing the passage of transcription factors from the epithelial to the mesenchymal stem/progenitors cells.

Proceedings of the 2nd International Course on Perinatal Pathology (part of the 11th International Workshop on Neonatology · October 26th-31st, 2015) · Cagliari (Italy) · October 31st, 2015 · Stem cells: present and future
Guest Editors: Gavino Faa, Vassilios Fanos, Antonio Giordano


renal stem cell niche; nephrogenesis; human fetus; kidney development; metanephric mesenchymal cells; cap mesenchymal cells

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