The pathophysiology of cellular injury and repair has been extensively studied in acute kidney injury (AKI) for more than 70 years. Although a great deal of knowledge has been generated, a debate over the importance of repairing damaged cells versus replacing them by proliferation remains. In this issue of the JCI, Kishi et al. demonstrate that following kidney epithelial cell injury, DNA repair, rather than cell proliferation, plays the central role in recovery and longevity by minimizing apoptosis, G2/M cell-cycle arrest, and subsequent fibrosis. This has important therapeutic implications and highlights the need for more sensitive techniques to evaluate functional, structural, and molecular recovery following injury.
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