Insulin's effects on podocytes, cells that are integral to the kidney's ability to filter blood, may help explain why individuals with diabetes often require dialysis or kidney transplantation, report scientists in Europe and North America (Welsh GI et al. Cell Metab. 2010;12:329-340).
To determine whether insulin signaling in podocytes affects kidney function, investigators used nondiabetic mice that were genetically modified so that their podocytes had no insulin receptors. Such mice began to excrete protein in their urine and demonstrated other features characteristic of diabetic kidney disease. Further examination revealed that insulin activity caused the podocytes to remodel themselves, potentially to become ready for an increased workload after a meal.
Hampton T. Kidney Failure Cause. JAMA. 2010;304(21):2350. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1718