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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The fate of bone marrow-derived cells carrying a polycystic kidney disease mutation in the genetically normal kidney

Elizabeth Verghese12, Chad Johnson3, John F Bertram4, Sharon D Ricardo2 and James A Deane25*

Author affiliations

1 Biomedical and Health Sciences, Victoria University, St Albans, Australia

2 Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

3 Monash Micro Imaging, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

4 Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

5 Current Address: The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-91

Published: 29 August 2012



Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic condition in which dedifferentiated and highly proliferative epithelial cells form renal cysts and is frequently treated by renal transplantation. Studies have reported that bone marrow-derived cells give rise to renal epithelial cells, particularly following renal injury as often occurs during transplantation. This raises the possibility that bone marrow-derived cells from a PKD-afflicted recipient could populate a transplanted kidney and express a disease phenotype. However, for reasons that are not clear the reoccurrence of PKD has not been reported in a genetically normal renal graft. We used a mouse model to examine whether PKD mutant bone marrow-derived cells are capable of expressing a disease phenotype in the kidney.


Wild type female mice were transplanted with bone marrow from male mice homozygous for a PKD-causing mutation and subjected to renal injury. Y chromosome positive, bone marrow-derived cells in the kidney were assessed for epithelial markers.


Mutant bone marrow-derived cells were present in the kidney. Some mutant cells were within the bounds of the tubule or duct, but none demonstrated convincing evidence of an epithelial phenotype.


Bone marrow-derived cells appear incapable of giving rise to genuine epithelial cells and this is the most likely reason cysts do not reoccur in kidneys transplanted into PKD patients.

Bone marrow-derived epithelial cells; Cyst; Hematopoietic stem cells; Polycystic kidney disease; Proliferation; Renal injury