Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 326, Issue 3, pp 671–685 | Cite as

Molecular and cellular pathophysiology of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD)

  • William E. SweeneyJr
  • Ellis D. AvnerEmail author


Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) belongs to a group of congenital hepatorenal fibrocystic syndromes characterized by dual renal and hepatic involvement of variable severity. Despite the wide clinical spectrum of ARPKD (MIM 263200), genetic linkage studies indicate that mutations at a single locus, PKHD1 (polycystic kidney and hepatic disease 1), located on human chromosome region 6p21.1–p12, are responsible for all phenotypes of ARPKD. Identification of cystic disease genes and their encoded proteins has provided investigators with critical tools to begin to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms of PKD. PKD cystic epithelia share common phenotypic abnormalities despite the different genetic mutations that underlie the disease. Recent studies have shown that many cyst-causing proteins are expressed in multimeric complexes at distinct subcellular locations within epithelia. This co-expression of cystoproteins suggests that cyst formation, regardless of the underlying disease gene, results from perturbations in convergent and/or integrated signal transduction pathways. To date, no specific therapies are in clinical use for ameliorating cyst growth in ARPKD. However, studies noted in this review suggest that therapeutic targeting of the cAMP and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-axis abnormalities in cystic epithelia may translate into effective therapies for ARPKD and, by analogy, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). A particularly promising approach appears to be the targeting of downstream intermediates of both the cAMP and EGFR axis. This review focuses on ARPKD and presents a concise summary of the current understanding of the molecular genetics and cellular pathophysiology of this disease. It also highlights phenotypic and mechanistic similarities between ARPKD and ADPKD.


Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease Molecular genetics Cellular pathophysiology Phenotype Disease mechanism 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Health System of WisconsinMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Director, Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Health System of Wisconsin, Associate Dean for Research, Children’s Corporate CenterMedical College of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA

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