Scientific Sessions 2015 - illustration of kidneys

Dispatching healing cells equipped with proteins that serve as a guidance system may improve recovery when sudden damage occurs to the kidney, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Acute kidney injury generally occurs when blood flow to the kidney tissue is decreased, a condition common in hospitalized and critically ill patients.

Researchers from Alabama attached endothelial cells — cells found on the interior surface of blood vessels — with receptor proteins called interleukin-8 to target these cells to the site of injury in order to accelerate tissue repair in injured kidneys.

They divided rats into four groups of eight to 10 each. One group (sham) had no kidney injury. The other three groups included rats with acute kidney injury. Of the three groups that had acute kidney injury, one group received endothelial cells carrying the IL-8 receptors, the second group received endothelial cells without the receptors, and the third received just a saline solution (control group).

The day after the procedure, they found:

  • Treatment with endothelial cells carrying IL-8 receptors was linked to lower levels of inflammation-related molecules in the kidney and bloodstream.
  • A surge in serum creatinine — a waste product normally filtered by healthy kidneys — was also milder in rats that received the endothelial cells carrying the IL-8 receptors than it was in rats that did not.

After six weeks, treatment with endothelial cells carrying IL-8 receptors appeared more effective against a buildup of collagen in the kidney’s supportive tissue, compared to the sham and control groups.