• Progenitor cells;
  • Renal artery stenosis;
  • Oxidative stress;
  • Inflammation;
  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) augment tissue repair but possess slightly different properties. How the cellular phenotype affects the efficacy of this approach in renovascular disease is incompletely understood. This study tested the hypothesis that EPC and MSC protect the poststenotic kidney by blunting different disease pathways. Peripheral blood EPC and adipose-derived MSC were expanded and characterized by cell surface markers (e.g., CD34/kinase insert domain receptor, or CD44/CD90). Single-kidney hemodynamics and function were assessed in pigs after 10 weeks of renal artery stenosis (RAS) treated 4 weeks earlier with an intrarenal infusion of vehicle (n = 7), EPC (RAS+EPC) or MSC (RAS+MSC) (both 10 × 106, n = 6), and normal controls (n = 7). Kidney disease mechanisms were evaluated ex vivo. The ability of EPC and MSC to attenuate endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was also studied in isolated ER and in tubular cells cocultured with EPC and MSC. Glomerular filtration rate in RAS was lower than controls, increased in RAS+EPC, and further improved in RAS+MSC, although both improved renal blood flow similarly. EPC prominently enhanced renal growth factor expression and decreased oxidative stress, while MSC more significantly attenuated renal inflammation, ER stress, and apoptosis. Furthermore, MSC induced a greater decrease in caspase-3 and CHOP expression in cultured tubular cells through mechanisms involving cell contact. EPC and MSC achieve a comparable decrease of kidney injury in RAS by different mechanisms, although MSC elicited slightly superior improvement of renal function. These results support development of cell-based approaches for management of renovascular disease and suggest cell selection based on the underlying pathophysiology of kidney injury. STEM Cells2013;31:117–125