The glomerular capillary tuft is a highly intricate and specialized microvascular bed that filters plasma water and solute to form urine. The mature glomerulus contains four cell types: Parietal epithelial cells that form Bowman's capsule, podocytes that cover the outermost layer of the glomerular filtration barrier, glycocalyx-coated fenestrated endothelial cells that are in direct contact with blood, and mesangial cells that sit between the capillary loops. Filtration begins only after the influx and organization of endothelial and mesangial cells in the developing glomerulus. Tightly coordinated movement and cross-talk between these cell types is required for the formation of a functional glomerular filtration barrier, and disruption of these processes has devastating consequences for early life. Current concepts of the role of mesangial and endothelial cells in formation of the capillary tuft are reviewed here.
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