2013.07.06 Press Release

Identification of cells causing the aggravation of kidney diseases: Hope towards the development of new treatments for chronic kidney disease

A research group led by Professor Masayuki Yamamoto and Doctor Tomokazu Souma of Department of Medical Biochemistry, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine has discovered a mechanism responsible for kidney fibrosis, a common pathological pathway of chronic kidney diseases, which affects about 8 to 10 % of adult poplution in developed countries, and the posibility of reversion of this pathway.

The research group has identified the cells that produce erythropoietin, an indispensable hormone for red blood cell formation, in kidney, and elucidated that these cells transform into fibrosis-promoting cells. However, to what extent these cells contribute to kidney fibrosis and the reversibility of this process was not known.

In this study, it has been elucidated that the dysfunction and transformation of the renal erythropoietin-producing cells are the major cause of kidney fibrosis by using gene-modified animals. Furthermore, the transformed cells secrete inflammatory cytokines, thereby forming a vicious cycle of micro-inflammation. By modifying the inflammatory signals, the transformed cells revert to their normal states. These results clearly demonstrate that controlling the cellular properties of renal erythropoietin-producing cells is an attractive strategy to suppress the aggravation of chronic kidney disease and to accomplish reversible recovery in future.

The research was conducted in part with funding from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Create Revolutionary Technology Seeds for Science and Technology Innovation (CREST) program as a part of a program for "the creation of strategic basic technologies and mechanism for the understanding and control of inflammation.” The results of this research have been published in the online bulletin edition of the American scientific journal, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, on July 5 in Japan and July 6 in U.S. time. The paper's title is "Plasticity of Renal Erythropoietin-producing Cells Governs Fibrosis."

More information (Japanese)

(About the research)
Professor Masayuki Yamamoto
Department of Medical Biochemistry
Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
Address: 2-1 Seiryo-cho, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575 Japan
Tel:+81-22-717-8088 Fax:+81-22-717-8090
E-mail:masiyamamoto* (Replace * with @)

(About JST)
Takafumi Kawaguchi
Department of Innovation Research, Japan Science and Technology Agency
Address: K's Gobancho 7, Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0076 Japan
Tel: +81-3-3512-3531,8404 Fax:+81-3-3222-2066
E-mail:crest* (Replace * with @)

(Public Relations)
Associate Professor Fuji Nagami
Public Relations Office of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
TEL: +81-22-717-7908 FAX: +81-22-717-8187
E-mail: f-nagami* (Replace * with @)