Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 259, Issue 1, pp 67-70

First online:

Evidence of apoptosis in human diabetic kidney

  • Dinender KumarAffiliated withCardiovascular Research Centre, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin
  • , Susan RobertsonAffiliated withDepartment of Laboratory Medicine, Ottawa Hospital
  • , Kevin D. BurnsAffiliated withDepartment of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Kidney Research Centre, Ottawa Health Research Institute, University of Ottawa

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Diabetic nephropathy is characterized by an early period of renal growth with glomerular and tubular cell hypertrophy, but this is followed by progressive glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis, associated with loss of renal tissue. We studied whether apoptotic cell death occurs in human diabetic nephropathy. Percutaneous renal biopsy samples were obtained from five patients with diabetic nephropathy who were receiving insulin and/or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy. Apoptosis was determined by the presence of DNA fragmentation, detected by in situ TUNEL staining, and by characteristic features on electron microscopy, such as chromatin condensation. Apoptosis was present in all five biopsy specimens, either in epithelial cells of the proximal or distal tubules, or in endothelial cells or interstitial cells. No apoptosis was detected in cells of the glomeruli. The present study provides evidence for apoptosis in human diabetic kidney, and suggests a role for apoptosis in the gradual loss of renal mass.

apoptosis diabetic kidney tubulointerstitium endothelial cell