Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1755.2003.00877.x


BACKGROUND: The podocyte cell is believed to play an important role in idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) of childhood. In adults with cellular and collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), the expression of cell-cycle regulatory proteins such as p27, p57, and cyclin D is decreased and expression of cyclin A, Ki-67, and p21 is observed in podocyte cells suggestive of a dysregulated podocyte phenotype. We investigated for alterations in the expression of cyclin kinase inhibitors, p27, p57, p21, and cyclins D and A in the podocyte cell of children with INS.

METHODS: Forty-two kidney biopsies were investigated; 14 with minimal-change disease (MCD), seven with diffuse mesangial hypercellularity (DMH), 12 with FSGS, four with Alport syndrome (AS), and five normal biopsies. The sections were examined by immunohistochemistry using dual staining method. Podocyte cells were first identified by Wilm's tumor-1 staining after which expressions of cell-cycle regulatory proteins were analyzed. A quantitative analysis was performed for the proportion of podocyte cells that expressed each cell cycle regulatory protein.

RESULTS: On light microscopy, all podocyte cells expressed p27, while p57 and p21 expression was seen in a portion of podocyte cells in normal kidney biopsies. Cyclin D was expressed in a small percent of podocyte cells though the expression was more marked in mesangial and endothelial cells. Cyclin A expression was not seen in normal biopsies. The mean expression of p27 decreased significantly in order from normal (100%), MCD (45.9%), DMH (22.4%), and FSGS (16.7%), and the difference between MCD and FSGS was significant. p21 was significantly and equally reduced in MCD (2.3%), DMH (0%), and FSGS (0.7%) compared to normal (66.6%). There was no significant difference in expression of p57, cyclin D and cyclin A in the podocyte cells between normal and children with INS. Children with AS showed a significant decrease in p27 and p21 expression, while the expression of p57, cyclin D and cyclin A were unchanged from normal, thus demonstrating a pattern similar to INS.

CONCLUSION: The podocyte cell in children with INS down-regulates expression of cyclin kinase inhibitors such as p21 and p27, but not p57, but does not up-regulate cyclin D and cyclin A that are needed to overcome the G1/S transition and move the cell forward in the cell cycle process. Thus, the podocyte cell remains trapped in the G1 arrest phase. In children with INS or AS, the dysregulated podocyte phenotype is different than the one described in adults with cellular or collapsing FSGS.

Journal Title

Kidney international





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Adolescent; Cell Cycle Proteins; Cell Division; Child; Child, Preschool; Cyclin A; Cyclin D; Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27; Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p57; Cyclins; Female; Humans; Kidney Glomerulus; Male; Nephrotic Syndrome; Nuclear Proteins; Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras); Tumor Suppressor Proteins