Group leader:

DR BART SMEETS PHD

RESEARCH NARRATIVE

Research focuses on progressive kidney diseases leading to scarring of the glomerulus (glomerulosclerosis) and loss of the nephrons of the kidney.
Current projects are aimed at unraveling the molecular processes underlying nephron injury and repair, to identify new biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.

The Nephropathology research group is positioned within the department of Pathology and the Renal Disorders research theme of the Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  

Bart Smeets PhD

Group leader

The Nephropathology research group is positioned within the department of Pathology and the Renal Disorders research theme of the Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  

Research narrative

Research focuses on progressive kidney diseases leading to scarring of the glomerulus (glomerulosclerosis) and loss of the nephrons of the kidney.
Current projects are aimed at unraveling the molecular processes underlying nephron injury and repair, to identify new biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.

OUR RESEARCH

New treatment options for glomerulosclerosis

There are limited options for treatment of glomerulosclerosis available. In previous studies , we have shown that parietal epithelial cells (PECs), when activated, are crucially involved in the development of glomerulosclerosis. 

Our current studies are aimed to unravel the molecular mechanism driving PEC activation and subsequent glomerulosclerosis. The knowledge that will be acquired from these studies is necessary for the identification of new diagnostic and prognostic markers and of specific therapeutic targets.

To understand proximal tubular cell regeneration

Tubular cell injury is a common finding in biopsies of patients with acute kidney injury (AKI), as well as in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Tubular cell injury occurs in response to a variety of renal insults, most commonly ischemia. 

We aim to identify the yet unknown molecular processes regulating tubule repair. A better understanding of the molecular processes is a prerequisite for the develomentof specific therapies for prevention and recovery of AKI/CKD.

3D Kidney organoid cultures to model kidney disease

Recent advances in human stem cell-derived kidney organoid models have opened new avenues to model glomerular and tubular diseases in vitro. 

In the Smeets lab the kidney organoid model was succesfully implemented and used in various projects including the NWO ZonMW Veni Project of Dr. Jitske Jansen

FUNDING

 – VIDI grant ZonMw

– VENI grant ZonMw

 – Radboudumc Hypatia grant 

 – Dutch Kindey Foundation

NWO-logo1

NEWS

A huge surface

A huge surface A microscopic image scan of a cross-section of a mouse kidney. Different microscopic images are digitally stitched together to create this image. The bright fluorescent green structures are the brush borders within the kidney. Both kidneys together filter 200 liters of fluid every 24 hours. The filtrate is further processed and concentrated to the 1,5 liter of urine we normally pee throughout the day. The filtrate is processed in specialized tubes (nephrons). A human

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An illuminating cross-section of a kidney

An illuminating cross-section of a kidney A microscopic image scan of a whole mouse kidney. Different microscopic images are digitally stitched together to create this image. The bright fluorescent red structures are the proximal tubuli of the kidney. The nuclei of kidney cells are stained blue. The nuclei of a subpopulation of cells is labeled by a green fluorescent protein.

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“Bright” podocytes

    “Bright” podocytes A microscopic image scan of a whole mouse kidney. Different microscopic images are digitally stitched together to create this image. The bright fluorescent cells are podocytes. This cell type is important for the filtration of the blood. The podocyte cell body is stained in green and the nucleus in pink. Using these fluorescent markers, we can visualize the podocytes and thus the glomeruli (the kidney filters).

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A beautiful pattern

A beautiful pattern Fluorescence image of the kidney papilla, which contain tubules that are normally busy processing your urine. The so-called collecting ducts are depicted in green. In red one can see the thin loops of Henle and blood vessels (vasa rectae).

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A cover image

A cover image This is a immunofluorescence staining of a glomerulus of the kidney.  Blue: the cell nuclei, red: Basement membrane molecules in Bowman’s capsule and green: synaptopodin, a podocyte specific cytoskeletal protein. This image was used for a cover image

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A surprising finding

A surprising finding! These kidney epithelial cells in culture were ignored for several weeks. The cells normally grow as a monolayer on the bottom of the culture flask. Without the necessary care and fresh nutrition, the cells changed their behavior and started to form spheres that were filled with extracellular matrix. This was never shown for this cell type. A finding that was interesting but difficult to reproduce. Nevertheless, a surprising finding.

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