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Advances in Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 473134, 17 pages
Review Article

Mesenchymal Conversion of Mesothelial Cells Is a Key Event in the Pathophysiology of the Peritoneum during Peritoneal Dialysis

Centro de Biología Molecular-Severo Ochoa, CSIC, UAM, Cantoblanco, C/Nicolás Cabrera 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain

Received 12 August 2013; Revised 9 November 2013; Accepted 18 November 2013; Published 23 January 2014

Academic Editor: Anjali Satoskar

Copyright © 2014 Manuel López-Cabrera. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a therapeutic option for the treatment of end-stage renal disease and is based on the use of the peritoneum as a semipermeable membrane for the exchange of toxic solutes and water. Long-term exposure of the peritoneal membrane to hyperosmotic PD fluids causes inflammation, loss of the mesothelial cells monolayer, fibrosis, vasculopathy, and angiogenesis, which may lead to peritoneal functional decline. Peritonitis may further exacerbate the injury of the peritoneal membrane. In parallel with these peritoneal alterations, mesothelial cells undergo an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which has been associated with peritoneal deterioration. Factors contributing to the bioincompatibility of classical PD fluids include the high content of glucose/glucose degradation products (GDPs) and their acidic pH. New generation low-GDPs-neutral pH fluids have improved biocompatibility resulting in better preservation of the peritoneum. However, standard glucose-based fluids are still needed, as biocompatible solutions are expensive for many potential users. An alternative approach to preserve the peritoneal membrane, complementary to the efforts to improve fluid biocompatibility, is the use of pharmacological agents protecting the mesothelium. This paper provides a comprehensive review of recent advances that point to the EMT of mesothelial cells as a potential therapeutic target to preserve membrane function.