Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition that affects nearly 15% of the U.S. population and over 200 million people worldwide. Alfonso Eirin Massat, M.D., conducts research to find effective interventions to preserve renal function in patients with CKD.
- Stem cells. Stem cells are prevalent in many organs, and their kidney counterparts act as a reservoir of undifferentiated cells to address the repair needs of the kidney. Regenerative therapy with stem cells has shown promising results in preclinical models of renal disease and might be useful for patients with several forms of CKD.
- Mitochondria. The viability, plasticity, proliferative and differential potential, and functionality of stem cells are all affected by the function and integrity of their mitochondria. These organelles primarily produce cellular energy, but they also maintain cellular homeostasis by regulating redox state, proliferation, apoptosis and calcium signaling. Dr. Eirin and his colleagues are exploring the fundamental role of mitochondria in modulating stem cell biology and function.
- Therapeutic interventions. Dr. Eirin also explores the impact of mitochondrial damage in the overall renal repair capacity of stem cells and develops novel therapeutic interventions (mitoprotective drugs). These studies invoke application of state-of-the-art 3D electron microscopy techniques, mitochondrial functional analysis and in vitro studies to explore molecular regulatory mechanisms such as the inhibition of protein translation by interaction of microRNAs with their target mRNAs.
Significance to patient care
The work in Dr. Eirin's laboratory has immediate impact on patient care at Mayo Clinic by improving the understanding of the contribution of these organelles to stem cell function. Investigations conducted by Dr. Eirin and his colleagues also contribute to the development of novel therapeutic tools to preserve the regenerative potency of stem cells and their suitability for autologous transplantation in patients.