Occlusive renovascular disease caused by atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (ARAS) elicits complex biological responses that eventually lead to loss of kidney function. Recent studies indicate a complex interplay of oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, and activation of fibrogenic and inflammatory cytokines as a result of atherosclerosis, hypoxia, and renal hypoperfusion in this disorder. Human studies emphasize the limits of the kidney adaptation to reduced blood flow, eventually leading to renal hypoxia with activation of inflammatory and fibrogenic pathways. Several randomized prospective clinical trials show that stent revascularization alone in patients with atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis provides little additional benefit to medical therapy once these processes have developed and solidified. Experimental data now support developing adjunctive cell-based measures to support angiogenesis and anti-inflammatory renal repair mechanisms. These data encourage the study of endothelial progenitor cells and/or mesenchymal stem/stromal cells for the repair of damaged kidney tissue.
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