Polycystic Kidney Disease And Stem Cell Therapy

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder in which cysts form in the kidneys, causing the organ to enlarge, and gradually impairing its function as the disease progresses. The renal tubule of usually becomes irregularly and abnormally shaped, which eventually leads to the formation of the cysts. These cysts may start developing as early as when the individual was still in-utero, to when the affected individual becomes an adult. These cysts can be defined as tubules that have lost their functions but becomes filled with fluid. This size differs from people to people, but they usually range from small to large sizes. The cyst grows, and also goes further to impair the function of the next tubule, destroying it and turning it into a cyst too. Genetics has been identified as the cause of this disease. According to studies, these defected genes induces the production of an abnormal protein. The protein has been implicated as the reason behind the malformation and damage of the renal tubules, that would eventually become cysts. There are two types of Polycystic kidney disease. This includes the Autosomal polycystic kidney disease, and the autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.

This disease can be diagnosed based on the presenting symptoms. For example, patients would usually complain of a groin pain, colored urine, enlarged kidney or a history of a family member that had the disease. The diagnosis can be confirmed by undergoing a Computer tomography scan. Some of the complications of this disease are infections and hypertension. Treatment options are transplantation and other forms of symptomatic therapy.Adipose extracted stem cells have been shown to be effective in treating this disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of Polycystic kidney disease?

Polycystic kidney disease presents with various symptoms in different people. Some of the symptoms of this disease are;

  1. Hypertension: This is one of the most common symptoms of this disease. Affected individuals usually have a high blood arterial pressure.
  2. Headache
  3. Pain: Patients might feel pain in their groin. This pain can sometimes become very severe.
  4. Hematuria: Hematuria is a condition in which the patient’s urine contains blood. This is mostly as a result of the impairment of the renal tubules.
  5. Kidney stones: The impaired function of the kidney tubules facilitate the development of renal stones. These stones if less than 3mm can pass on their own without the use of any medication. However, a kidney stone that is big sized might require procedures such as percutaneous nephrostomy.
  6. Renal failure: This eventually happens when the disease is not well managed. This can also become worse if ignored.
  7. Swelling of the abdomen: The abdomen usually feels bigger. This can be attributed to the enlarged kidneys.

What’s the cause of polycystic kidney disease?

As said earlier, this disease is caused by a defected gene that induces the production of an abnormal protein. This protein generally impairs the development of the kidney tubule. There are two types of this disease, and these are autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. The cause of the disease is specific to each of them.

  1. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease: This is the most predominant type of the polycystic diseases. Studies have shown that about one in ten cases of patients on dialysis were initially diagnosed and treated for this disease. This disease is more common in people between the ages of thirty and forty. However, children do get affected by this disease. This disease is autosomal dominant, which implies that only a parent is needed to have this disease, for the children to get affected. A child has a fifty percent chance of having the disease even if one of the parents has the disease.
  2. Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease: This disease is far less common when compared to autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. The signs and symptoms don’t usually present early until the child grows into adolescence. This disease is generally more predominant in children. It’s an autosomal recessive disease, so both parents must have the abnormal genes for the child to have a chance of having the disease.

What are the complications of Polycystic kidney disease?

Below are some of the complications of this disease;

  1. Hypertension: This occurs due to as a result of the cysts in the kidney. This disease can progress to more severe complications if left untreated. Examples of further complications that can arise from this disease are renal failure, cardiac-related diseases and stroke.
  2. Impairment of the renal system: The gradual loss of the functions of the kidney is one of the most prominent symptoms of this disease. According to statistics, more than half of the people affected with this disease usually presents with renal failure by the time they attain the age of sixty. Some of the symptoms of an impaired kidney include the inability of the kidney to eliminate toxic materials from the body.
  3. Preeclampsia: Polycystic kidney disease increases the risk of which pregnant women can develop preeclampsia. This is a condition in which pregnant women experience proteinuria and hypertension during pregnancy.
  4. Cardiacrelated diseases.
  5. Gastrointestinal problems
  6. Long-term pains: Pain is a symptom that is common to most people affected by this disease. It often affects the lower part of the back and side of the body. Patients might also experience an infection of the urinary tract.

How is polycystic kidney disease currently treated?

There are no FDA approved treatments for this disease yet. However, patients are usually given symptomatic treatments. The purpose of these treatments is generally to reduce the progression of this disease and to treat the symptoms. Anti-hypertensive medications are usually given to treat high blood pressure, and analgesics are given to reduce the pain. In addition, antibiotics are administered to treat any infection that might occur as a result of the disease.  In severe conditions, dialysis might be needed to maintain the functions of the kidney.

Stem cell therapy of Polycystic diseases

Stem cells are unique cells that can proliferate, regenerate, repair and replace damaged or injured cells and tissues of the body. This is what makes the therapy effective in the treatment of this disease. Stem cells extracted from the adipose tissues are usually used for this purpose. They are extracted from the patient and re-transplanted to the patient to induce other cells to repair the damaged part of the kidney.


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McDonald, S. and Rangan, G. (2014). Progression of polycystic kidney disease—a lack of progress?. Nature Reviews Nephrology, 10(9), pp.489-491.

Pei, Y. and Watnick, T. (2010). Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, 17(2), pp.115-117.

Role for GSK3β in polycystic kidney disease pathogenesis. (2015). Nature Reviews Nephrology, 11(4), pp.196-196.