JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

The study of single cells in diabetic kidney disease

Harmandeep Kaur, Andrew Advani
Journal of Nephrology 2021 January 21
33476038
In the past few years there has been a rapid expansion of interest in the study of single cells, especially through the new techniques that involve single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). Recently, these techniques have provided new insights into kidney health and disease, including insights into diabetic kidney disease (DKD). However, despite the interest and the technological advances, the study of individual cells in DKD is not a new concept. Many clinicians and researchers who work within the DKD space may be familiar with experimental techniques that actually involve the study of individual cells, but may be unfamiliar with newer scRNA-seq technology. Here, with the goal of improving accessibility to the single-cell field, we provide a primer on single-cell studies with a focus on DKD. We situate the technology in its historical context and provide a brief explanation of the common aspects of the different technologies available. Then we review some of the most important recent studies of kidney (patho)biology that have taken advantage of scRNA-seq techniques, before emphasizing the new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of DKD gleaned with these techniques. Finally, we highlight common pitfalls and limitations of scRNA-seq methods and we look toward the future to how single-cell experiments may be incorporated into the study of DKD and how to interpret the findings of these experiments.

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