Accelerated podocyte detachment and progressive podocyte loss from glomeruli with age in Alport Syndrome.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Kidney Int, Volume 92, Issue 6, p.1515-1525 (2017)




Podocyte depletion is a common mechanism driving progression in glomerular diseases. Alport Syndrome glomerulopathy, caused by defective α3α4α5 (IV) collagen heterotrimer production by podocytes, is associated with an increased rate of podocyte detachment detectable in urine and reduced glomerular podocyte number suggesting that defective podocyte adherence to the glomerular basement membrane might play a role in driving progression. Here a genetically phenotyped Alport Syndrome cohort of 95 individuals [urine study] and 41 archived biopsies [biopsy study] were used to test this hypothesis. Podocyte detachment rate (measured by podocin mRNA in urine pellets expressed either per creatinine or 24-hour excretion) was significantly increased 11-fold above control, and prior to a detectably increased proteinuria or microalbuminuria. In parallel, Alport Syndrome glomeruli lose an average 26 podocytes per year versus control glomeruli that lose 2.3 podocytes per year, an 11-fold difference corresponding to the increased urine podocyte detachment rate. Podocyte number per glomerulus in Alport Syndrome biopsies is projected to be normal at birth (558/glomerulus) but accelerated podocyte loss was projected to cause end-stage kidney disease by about 22 years. Biopsy data from two independent cohorts showed a similar estimated glomerular podocyte loss rate comparable to the measured 11-fold increase in podocyte detachment rate. Reduction in podocyte number and density in biopsies correlated with proteinuria, glomerulosclerosis, and reduced renal function. Thus, the podocyte detachment rate appears to be increased from birth in Alport Syndrome, drives the progression process, and could potentially help predict time to end-stage kidney disease and response to treatment.