How Tubular Epithelial Cell Injury Contributes to Renal Fibrosis

  • Bi-Cheng LiuEmail author
  • Tao-Tao Tang
  • Lin-Li Lv
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1165)


The renal tubules are the major component of the kidney and are vulnerable to a variety of injuries including ischemia, proteinuria, toxins, and metabolic disorders. It has long been believed that tubules are the victim of injury. In this review, we shift this concept to renal tubules as a driving force in the progression of kidney disease. In response to injury, tubular epithelial cells (TECs) can synthesize and secrete varieties of bioactive molecules that drive interstitial inflammation and fibrosis. Innate immune-sensing receptors on the TECs also aggravate immune responses. Necroinflammation, an auto-amplification loop between tubular cell death and interstitial inflammation, leads to the exacerbation of renal injury. Furthermore, TECs also play an active role in progressive renal injury via mechanisms associated with the conversion into collagen-producing fibroblast phenotype, cell cycle arrest at both G1/S and G2/M checkpoints, and metabolic disorder. Thus, a better understanding the mechanisms by which tubular injury drives AKI and CKD is necessary for the development of therapeutics to halt the progression of CKD.


Tubular epithelial cells Renal fibrosis Renal inflammation Chronic kidney disease Acute kidney injury 



This chapter was modified from a paper reported by our group in Kidney Int (Liu et al. 2018). The related contents are reused with permission.

This study was supported by grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC1314004), the National Natural Scientific Foundation (No. 81720108007, 81130010, 81470997, and 81670696), and the Clinic Research Center of Jiangsu Province (No. BL2014080).


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nephrology, Zhong Da HospitalSoutheast University School of MedicineNanjingChina

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