Published online Nov 26, 2016. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v8.i11.367
Peer-review started: July 1, 2016
First decision: August 5, 2016
Revised: August 18, 2016
Accepted: September 7, 2016
Article in press: September 8, 2016
Published online: November 26, 2016
Kidney disease is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and its prevalence is predicted to significantly increase. The kidney is a complex organ encompassing many diverse cell types organized in a elaborate tissue architecture, making regeneration a challenging feat. In recent years, there has been a surge in the field of stem cell research to develop regenerative therapies for various organ systems. Here, we review some recent progressions in characterizing the role of renal progenitors in development, regeneration, and kidney disease in mammals. We also discuss how the zebrafish provides a unique experimental animal model that can provide a greater molecular and genetic understanding of renal progenitors, which may contribute to the development of potential regenerative therapies for human renal afflictions.
Core tip: The kidney is a complex organ comprised of many diverse cell types. Damage of renal cells leads to devastating kidney diseases because humans have limited abilities to regenerate these cells. Here, we explore recent research that has sought to better characterize renal progenitors during development, to identify whether renal stem cells exist in the adult kidney, and to understand the enigmatic properties of renal progenitors across diverse vertebrate species such as fish.