Background The generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) has opened a world of opportunities for stem cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine. Currently, several human kidney organoid protocols are available that generate organoids containing kidney structures. However, these kidney organoids are relatively small ranging up to 0.13 cm2 and therefore contain a small number of nephrons compared to an adult kidney, thus defying the exploration of future use for therapy.
Method We have developed a scalable, easily accessible, and reproducible to increase the size of the organoid up to a nephron sheet of 2.5 cm2 up to a maximum of 12.6 cm2 containing a magnitude of nephrons.
Results Confocal microscopy showed that the subunits of the nephrons remain evenly distributed throughout the entire sheet and that these tissue sheets can attain ~30,000-40,000 glomerular structures. Upon transplantation in immunodeficient mice, such nephron sheets became vascularized and matured. They also show reuptake of injected low-molecular mass dextran molecules in the tubular structures, indicative of glomerular filtration. Furthermore, we developed a protocol for the cryopreservation of intermediate mesoderm cells during the differentiation and demonstrate that these cells can be successfully thawed and recovered to create such tissue sheets.
Conclusion The scalability of the procedures, and the ability to cryopreserve the cells during differentiation are important steps forward in the translation of these differentiation protocols to future clinical applications such as transplantable auxiliary kidney tissue.