Tubular cross talk in acute kidney injury: A story of sense and sensibility

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15 Scopus citations


The mammalian kidney is an organ composed of numerous functional units or nephrons. Beyond the filtering glomerulus of each nephron, various tubular segments with distinct populations of epithelial cells sequentially span the kidney from cortex to medulla. The highly organized folding of the tubules results in a spatial distribution that allows intimate contact between various tubular subsegments. This unique arrangement can promote a newly recognized type of horizontal epithelial-to-epithelial cross talk. In this review, we discuss the importance of this tubular cross talk in shaping the response of the kidney to acute injury in a sense and sensibility model. We propose that injury-resistant tubules such as S1 proximal segments and thick ascending limbs (TAL) can act as “sensors” and thus modulate the responsiveness or “sensibility” of the S2-S3 proximal segments to injury. We also discuss new findings that highlight the importance of tubular cross talk in regulating homeostasis and inflammation not only in the kidney, but also systemically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F1317-F1323
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2015


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Sepsis
  • Tamm-Horsfall protein
  • Tubular cross talk
  • Uromodulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology

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