What Is The Difference Between Podocytes and Mesangial Cells?

What is the main difference between podocytes and mesangial cells? The former are cells that wrap the capillaries of glomerulus while the latter are specialized cells that form the mesangium of the glomerulus

These types of cells will help you understand the anatomy of glomerulus and its function. But the close similarities between podocytes and mesangial cells can make it challenging to differentiate them. Use the podocytes structure and mesangial cells functions to tell their differences.

We wrote this comprehensive to help you understand the differences and similarities of these two vital cells. Take the time to read through the podocytes function and mesangial cells function to clear the confusion during your revision.

5 Difference Between Podocytes and Mesangial Cells (With Table)

Difference Between Podocytes and Mesangial Cells With Table

Basic Terms Podocytes Mesangial Cells
Meaning Refer to specialized epithelial cells that coat the outer walls of glomerular capillaries Refer to irregularly shaped cells that extend processes from their cell body towards the glomerular basement membrane (GBM).
Function Prevent the entry of plasma proteins into the glomerular filtrate Clearing the glomerulus of pathogens and deposited extra-glomerular material
Structure Consist of a cell body, major processes that extend outward from their cell body, forming interdigitated foot processes (FPs) that enwrap the glomerular capillaries. Have irregular shapes with flattened-cylinder-like cell bodies and processes at both ends containing actin, myosin, and actinin, giving them contractile properties.
Importance These cells wrap around the capillaries of the glomerulus These specialized cells form the mesangium of the glomerulus
Location Kidney glomerulus Kidney

What Are Podocytes?

Podocytes are specialized cells found in the Bowman’s capsule of the kidneys, playing a crucial role in the filtration of blood to form urine. They feature intricate foot-like extensions called “pedicels” that interdigitate with adjacent podocytes, creating gaps known as filtration slits.

These slits are crucial in the formation of the filtration barrier, preventing larger molecules like proteins from entering the urine while allowing waste products to pass through. They form a vital component of the glomerular filtration barrier.

They help regulate blood pressure, electrolyte levels, and overall fluid balance by selectively filtering substances. The podocyte’s foot processes and their intricate interactions with other cells and the extracellular matrix are crucial for maintaining the integrity of the filtration barrier.

These cells are of paramount importance in kidney function since any damage can lead to disruptions in filtration, resulting in conditions such as proteinuria (excessive protein in urine) and various kidney diseases.

What Are Mesangial Cells?

Mesangial cells are specialized cells located within the kidney’s glomerulus in the region between capillaries. They have a contractile nature and possess slender processes that support the glomerular capillaries, aiding in the regulation of blood flow and filtration.

Mesangial cells play a pivotal role in maintaining the glomerular filtration rate and overall kidney function. They help regulate blood flow by contracting or relaxing their processes, thus influencing the surface area available for blood filtration.

These cells are also involved in phagocytosis, clearing cellular debris and immune complexes from the filtration barrier. Mesangial cells actively participate in preserving kidney integrity and preventing the development of renal disorders.

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Main Difference Between Podocytes and Mesangial Cells

  1. Podocytes are found in Bowman’s capsule of the kidney while Mesangial cells are situated within the glomerulus between capillaries.
  2. Podocytes create the filtration barrier, regulating molecules passing into urine while Mesangial cells regulate blood flow, contractility, and phagocytosis in the glomerulus.
  3. Podocytes have foot processes forming filtration slits for precise filtration while Mesangial cells possess contractile processes supporting capillaries and immune clearance.
  4. Podocytes ensure selective filtration and maintain fluid balance in the kidney while Mesangial cells contribute to glomerular filtration rate and blood flow regulation in the glomerulus.

Similarities Between Podocytes and Mesangial Cells

  • Podocytes and mesangial cells are two cell types in the glomerulus.
  • Their function is to control the filtration of blood in the glomerulus.
  • They contain actin, giving contractile properties to the cells.

Final Thoughts from Experts

Knowing the podocytes function and mesangial cells function, you can easily differentiate them since they play different role in the kidney. But the main difference between podocytes and mesangial cells is based on their structural function.

We hope this comparison between podocytes and mesangial cells article will make your revision easier during the exam period. Feel free to share the information with your friends and we wish you all the best in your exams.

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