Role of the podocyte in proteinuria

Sylvia Menzel, Marcus J Moeller
Pediatric Nephrology 2011, 26 (10): 1775-80
In recent years, the podocyte, with its elaborate cytoarchitecture and slit diaphragm, has been the focus of extensive research, yet its precise role in the glomerular filtration barrier is still debated. There are puzzling observations indicating that a comprehensive mechanistic model for glomerular filtration is still necessary. There is no doubt that podocytes are essential for glomerular filtration barrier integrity. However, most albumin never reaches the podocyte because it is prevented from entering the glomerular filter at the endothelium level. Another puzzling observation is that the glomerular filter never clogs despite its high load of several kilograms of plasma proteins per day. Recently, we proposed a novel model in which an electrical potential difference is generated across the glomerular filtration barrier by filtration. The model offers novel potential solutions to some of the riddles regarding the glomerular filter.

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