Background: Glomerular capillaries are lined with highly specialized fenestrated endothelium which are primarily responsible to regulate high flux filtration of fluid and small solutes. During filtration, plasma passes through the fenestrated endothelium and basement membrane before it reaches the slit diaphragm, a specialized type of intercellular junction that connects neighbouring podocytes.
Methods: A PubMed search was done for recent articles on components of the glomerular filtration barrier such as glomerular endothelial cells, podocytes and glomerular basement membrane, and the effect of diabetes on these structures.
Results and Conclusion: Generally, the onset of kidney dysfunction in many diabetic patients is characterized by albuminuria/proteinuria, a pathophysiological event triggered by several factors including; (i) endothelial activation and shading of glycocalyx, (ii) loss of endothelial cell function, (ii) re-uptake of albumin by podocyte through a scavenger receptors and (iv) rearrangement of podocyte cytoskeleton. Howeover, as podocyte effacement does not always lead to proteinuria, the dynamic interplay between all constituents of the glomerular filtration barrier including podocytes, endothelial cells and the basement membrane may be fundamental for the effective filtration in healthy individuals. Thus, a putative cross-talk amongst podocytes, endothelial cells and the basement membrane in the homeostasis of glomerular function is envisaged. Although, the exact nature of this cross-talk remains to be clearly elucidated, it is possible that the interaction between: (i) glomerular endothelial cells and podocytes, (ii) glomerular endothelial cells and glomerular basement membrane, (iii) podocytes and glomerular basement membrane, and (iv) the simultaneous interaction amongst the three components collectively underpin effective filtration in healthy individuals. A comprehensive understanding of these different interactions still remains elusive. The elucidation of these multifaceted interactions will set the stage for greater understanding of the pathophysiology of kidney dysfunction.