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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Medical School
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

PI: Behzad Najafian

Early Podocyte Abnormalities in Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of end stage kidney disease in the U.S., and there is therefore a need for early detection of this condition. Diabetic nephropathy primarily affects glomeruli, the kidney filters. Podocytes, cells with a crucial role in the glomerular filtration barrier, contribute to diabetic nephropathy pathogenesis. Studies of podocyte structure in early diabetic nephropathy, when urinary albumin excretion is normal (normoalbuminuria), are few and show controversial results. This project studies podocyte ultrastructural abnormalities in sequential biopsies from normoalbuminuric diabetic patients. The researchers: measure podocyte structural parameters to detect abnormalities and determine the demographic, clinical and renal functional parameters related to these abnormalities and their progression; determine if podocyte structural abnormalities can predict progression of diabetic nephropathy; and perform electron tomography methodologies to explore molecular mechanisms of podocyte injury. The key target molecules studied using electron tomography are nephrin, alpha3-beta1 integrin, and dystroglycans. This study also applies high-pressure freezing-freeze substitution techniques to human kidney biopsies, as an attempt to minimize artifacts caused by fixation and tissue processing.

Group Members

Michael Mauer, Faculty Collaborator
Wei Zhang, Faculty Collaborator