A project by dr hab. Agnieszka Piwkowska funded by Preludium Bis 5 for almost PLN 700,000

The functions of basigin, an important protein for the human body, will be investigated by the team of dr hab. inż Agnieszka Piwkowska from the Faculty of Chemistry. The scientist is the head of the project, which was co-financed under the National Science Centre's Prelude BIS 5 programme for PLN 687 000. The team's findings may help to better understand ailments associated with diabetes, such as kidney damage and albuminuria.

‘The most important objective of this project is to investigate the role of basigin in the development of pathological changes in the structure of the glomerular filtration barrier observed in diabetes, which lead to proteinuria and renal failure,’ explains dr hab. inż. Agnieszka Piwkowska  ‘The project may also contribute to a better understanding of the molecular disorders of the mechanisms leading to albuminuria and the identification of new diagnostic markers for the early detection of kidney damage in diabetes.’

The full name of the project is 'Basigin as an important regulator of podocyte cell metabolism. Effects on glomerular filtration barrier function in diabetes'. The research was funded for PLN 687,000 under the National Science Centre's Prelude BIS 5 programme. The project was one of 19 in the area of Life Sciences to receive funding from this year's NSC competition. In addition to dr Agnieszka Piwkowska's project, the competition also supported a project by dr hab. Rafał Dutkiewicz, prof. UG from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG.

‘Basigin has many important functions in our organism. Its role as a mediator in inflammation has already been quite well studied. Recently, it has also been shown that SARS-CoV-2 can use this receptor as an additional route of invasion into host cells. There are also studies suggesting a link between increased expression of this protein and cancer,’ explains dr Agnieszka Piwkowska. ‘As diabetes is also associated with inflammation in the body, it is important to understand the physiological role of basigin in regulating podocyte function and the kidney as a whole, and to demonstrate what perturbations in the function of this protein occur during the development of diabetes.’

About the project


Basigin visualisation

The filtration barrier of the glomerulus is formed by capillary endothelial cells, the basement membrane and a layer of epithelial cells known as podocytes. It acts as a molecular sieve, regulating the flow of macromolecules from plasma to urine according to their size and charge. The anatomical location of podocytes around the renal capillaries exposes them to high, pulsatile changes in intracapillary pressure, which drives the filtration process. Furthermore, the lack of proliferative capacity of podocytes means that their damage or loss in disease states can lead to irreversible consequences for the kidney.

Basigin is a trans-membrane glycoprotein involved in various physiological and pathological processes through interactions with several other proteins such as cyclophilins, monocarboxylic transporters, caveolin-1 and integrins. It may also act as a key receptor mediating inflammatory and immune responses. Increased basigin expression has been linked to the pathogenesis of many diseases, including diabetes. However, its role in podocytes, a key component of the glomerular filtration barrier structure, has not yet been investigated.

Why are podocyte cells so important?

Podocyte dysfunction plays an important role in the development of proteinuria in diabetic nephropathy. This is related to the flattening and atrophy of podocyte footpads, which are crucial for the formation of the filtration slit membrane. The mechanism is not fully understood, so a better understanding of podocyte metabolism and function, particularly in the context of diabetes, may provide new insights into the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.

Edit. MJ/ZP