• mesenchymal stem cells;
  • chronic kidney disease;
  • epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition;
  • hepatocyte growth factor;
  • immunomodulation


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to improve the outcome of acute renal injury models; but whether MSCs can delay renal failure in chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains unclear. In the present study, the were cultured in media containing various concentrations of basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor and ascorbic acid 2-phosphate to investigate whether hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) secretion could be increased by the stimulation of these growth factors. Then, TGF-β1-treated renal interstitial fibroblast (NRK-49F), renal proximal tubular cells (NRK-52E) and podocytes were co-cultured with conditioned MSCs in the absence or presence of ascorbic acid 2-phosphate to quantify the protective effects of conditioned MSCs on renal cells. Moreover, male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with 1 × 106 conditioned MSCs immediately after 5/6 nephrectomy and every other week through the tail vein for 14 weeks. It was found that basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor and ascorbic acid 2-phosphate promoted HGF secretion in MSCs. Besides, conditioned MSCs were found to be protective against TGF-β1 induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of NRK-52E and activation of NRK-49F cells. Furthermore, conditioned MSCs protected podocytes from TGF-β1-induced loss of synaptopodin, fibronectin induction, cell death and apoptosis. Rats transplanted with conditioned human MSCs had a significantly increase in creatinine clearance rate, decrease in glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis and increase in CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells counts in splenocytes. Together, our studies indicated that conditioned MSCs preserve renal function by their anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory effects. Transplantation of conditioned MSCs may be useful in treating CKD.