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Mesangial Cell
Renal Corpuscle

Mesangial Cell


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Quick Facts

Mesangial cells are the phagocytic cells found in the mesangium of the glomerulus of the kidney, thought to aid in cleaning the filtration apparatus (Dorland, 2011).

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Related parts of the anatomy

Structure and/or Key Feature(s)

Within the renal corpuscle, the glomerular basement membrane associated with several capillaries encloses a space containing a population of cells called mesangial cells, which form the mesangium. The mesangium is more prominent at the vascular pole.

Mesangial cells are also located outside the renal corpuscle but are called extraglomerular mesangial (or lacis) cells and will form part of the juxtaglomerular apparatus (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).


The primary function of mesangial cells is to remove trapped residue, etc. from the glomerular basement membrane and filtration slit diaphragm and so maintain these structures free of debris. Whilst they are phagocytic cells they are not derived from precursor cells of the mononuclear phagocytic system (monocytes). Mesangial cells also structurally support podocytes where the basement membrane is absent and synthesize and secrete molecules which have a role in responses to injury to the glomerulus. Mesangial cells also have contractile properties (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).

Clinical Correlates

Mesangial cells proliferate in response to certain kidney diseases that are a consequence of abnormal amounts of debris accumulating in the glomerular filtration membrane.

—Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (Berger disease)

—Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis

—Lupus nephritis

—Diabetic nephropathy


Dorland, W. (2011) Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd edn. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier Saunders.

Ross, M. H. and Pawlina, W. (2006) Histology: A text and atlas. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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