Adenine nucleotides speed structural and functional recovery when administered after experimental renal injury in the rat and stimulate proliferation of kidney epithelial cells. As cell migration is a component of renal regeneration after acute tubular necrosis, we have used an in vitro model of wound healing to study this process. High density, quiescent monkey kidney epithelial cultures were wounded by mechanically scraping away defined regions of the monolayer to simulate the effect of cell loss after tubular necrosis and the number of cells that migrated into the denuded area was counted. Migration was independent of cell proliferation. Provision of adenosine, adenine nucleotides, or cyclic AMP increased the number of migrating cells and accelerated repair of the wound. Other purine and pyrimidine nucleotides were not effective. Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine peptide, which blocks the binding of extracellular fibronectin to its cell surface receptor, completely inhibited migration in the presence or absence of ADP. Very low concentrations of epidermal growth factor (K0.5 approximately 0.3 ng/ml) stimulated migration, whereas transforming growth factor-beta 2 was inhibitory (Ki approximately 0.2 ng/ml). Thus, adenosine and/or adenine nucleotides released from injured or dying renal cells, or administered exogenously, may stimulate surviving cells in the wounded nephron to migrate along the basement membrane, thereby rapidly restoring tubular structure and function.
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