Indexed on: 29 May '09Published on: 29 May '09Published in: Nature Reviews Nephrology
The podocytopathies, including minimal-change nephropathy, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, collapsing glomerulopathy, and diffuse mesangial sclerosis, involve diverse types of injury to podocytes. These injuries can have genetic causes, or can be caused by viral infection, mechanical stress, medication or-probably-immunologic injury. Several lines of evidence-including the immunosuppressive effects of standard therapies-suggest a role for immunologic injury in some cases, but the precise pathologic mechanisms are far from clear. Despite this uncertainty, newly available biologic therapies that target immune cells and cytokines have been used to treat a number of patients with different podocytopathies. Of these therapies, the greatest experience has been gained with rituximab. The data on all such therapies remain too fragmentary to provide firm conclusions, but further clinical research with such agents might help to define pathogenetic pathways and could potentially contribute to new therapies.