The Pathophysiology of the Peritoneal Membrane
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The development of peritoneal dialysis (PD) as a successful therapy has and still depends on experimental models to test and understand critical pieces of pathophysiology. To date, the majority of studies performed in rat and rabbit models derive mechanistic insights primarily on the basis of interventional pharmacologic agents, blocking antibodies, or transient expression systems. Because body size no longer limits the performance of in vivo studies of PD, genetic mouse models are increasingly available to investigate the molecular and pathophysiologic mechanisms of the peritoneal membrane. We illustrate in this review how these investigations are catching up with other areas of biomedical research and provide direct evidence for understanding transport and ultrafiltration, responses to infection, and structural changes including fibrosis and angiogenesis. These studies are relevant to mechanisms responsible not only for the major complications of PD but also for endothelial biology, host defense, inflammation, and tissue repair processes.
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