Podocytes are highly specialized, arborized epithelial cells covering the outer surface of the glomerular tuft in the kidney. Terminally differentiated podocytes are unable to go through cell division and hereby they are lacking a key property for regeneration after a toxic injury. Podocytes are long-lived cells but, to date, little is known about the mechanisms that support their stress resistance. Our aim was to investigate whether the well-known morphological changes during podocyte differentiation are accompanied by changes in oxidative resistance in a manner that could support their long-term survival. We used a conditionally immortalized human podocyte cell line to study the morphological and functional changes during differentiation. We followed the differentiation process for 14 days by time-lapse microscopy. During this period nondifferentiated podocytes gradually transformed into large, nonproliferating, frequently multinucleated cells, with enlarged nuclei and opened chromatin structure. We observed that differentiated podocytes were highly resistant to oxidants such as H2O2 and heme when applied separately or in combination, whereas undifferentiated cells were prone to such challenges. Elevated oxidative resistance of differentiated podocytes was associated with increased activities of antioxidant enzymes and H-ferritin expression. Immunohistochemical analysis of normal human kidney specimens revealed that podocytes highly express H-ferritin in vivo as well.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology