Drug-induced nephrotoxicity: clinical impact and preclinical in vitro models

Mol Pharm. 2014 Jul 7;11(7):1933-48. doi: 10.1021/mp400720w. Epub 2014 Mar 3.


The kidney is a major target for drug-induced toxicity. Drug-induced nephrotoxicity remains a major problem in the clinical setting, where the use of nephrotoxic drugs is often unavoidable. This leads frequently to acute kidney injury, and current problems are discussed. One strategy to avoid such problems would be the development of drugs with decreased nephrotoxic potential. However, the prediction of nephrotoxicity during preclinical drug development is difficult and nephrotoxicity is typically detected only late. Also, the nephrotoxic potential of newly approved drugs is often underestimated. Regulatory approved or validated in vitro models for the prediction of nephrotoxicity are currently not available. Here, we will review current approaches on the development of such models. This includes a discussion of three-dimensional and microfluidic models and recently developed stem cell based approaches. Most in vitro models have been tested with a limited number of compounds and are of unclear predictivity. However, some studies have tested larger numbers of compounds and the predictivity of the respective in vitro model had been determined. The results showed that high predictivity can be obtained by using primary or stem cell derived human renal cells in combination with appropriate end points.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced*
  • Animals
  • Drug Approval / methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques / methods
  • Kidney / drug effects*