Purpose of review: Recent advances in T cell biology have shed light on the role of T cell subsets in the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury (AKI). The purpose of this review is to harness our understanding of recent advances in T cell biology in tissue injury and repair and provide a mechanistic insight into the role of T cells in the inflammation of AKI.
Recent findings: New specific reagents and genetic animal models have led to advances in our understanding of the role of T cell subsets involved in renal injury. Whereas some T cells promote innate renal inflammation and injury, other T cells promote protection and repair. Recent studies illuminated the pathogenic mechanisms of invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells and T helper1-type responses, and the beneficial functions of regulatory T cells and NKT cells are just beginning to be explored. Pharmacologic and cell-based therapies that influence T cell responses to experimental AKI suggest that this is a promising approach to preserve renal function.
Summary: The recent insights gained into how T cells modulate renal injury suggest that strategies targeting specific types of T cells, to either inhibit or enhance their activity, may ameliorate renal injury in patients.