Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is an established renal replacement therapy for renal disease. It is based on the capacity of the peritoneum to act as a semipermeable membrane for the exchange of toxic solutes and water, which is called ultrafiltration capacity. Peritoneal membrane (PM) is lined by a monolayer of mesothelial cells (MCs), which lay on an extracellular matrix bed where other cell types and blood and lymphatic vessels can be found. Long-term exposure to hyperosmotic PD fluids (PDFs), peritonitis or hemoperitoneum causes peritoneal injury by the generation of an inflammatory state. Inflammatory cells and their mediators initiate a cascade of reactions promoting alterations in peritoneal cells, loss of MCs, fibrosis, vasculopathy, and angiogenesis, leading to ultrafiltration failure. Recent studies support that the so-called “mesothelial to mesenchymal transition” process of the MCs runs parallel to the anatomical and functional ridging of PM, which suggests that its inhibition might slow down or stop the PM damage. The fight against PM damage begins with the improvement in PDF biocompatibility. Complementary to this, an alternative approach to preserve the PM might be the use of pharmacological agents or molecular strategies. Here, we explain the existing research models for the development of new therapies and analyze several therapeutic options tested with them.
Part of the book: Some Special Problems in Peritoneal Dialysis