Purpose: The potential use of stem cells for acute and chronic renal injury is under intensive investigation. We summarized the current literature on the potential therapeutic role of mesenchymal stem cells for kidney injury. Materials and Methods: We reviewed the pertinent literature on mesenchymal stem cell therapy for acute and chronic renal injury. Results: Experimental evidence suggests that administering exogenous mesenchymal stem cells during acute and chronic kidney injury may improve functional and structural recovery of the tubular, glomerular and interstitial kidney compartments. Several studies point to a paracrine and/or endocrine mechanism of action rather than to direct repopulation of cells in the injured nephron. Multiple questions remain unanswered regarding the protective action of mesenchymal stem cells during renal injury, including signals that regulate stem cell homing to injured tissue, factors regulating paracrine and/or endocrine activity of exogenous mesenchymal stem cells and particularly the long-term behavior of administered stem cells in vivo. Conclusions: Many questions remain unanswered but mesenchymal stem cell based therapy is a promising new strategy for acute and chronic kidney disease.
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