Kidney transplantation, bioengineering and regeneration: an originally immunology-based discipline destined to transition towards ad hoc organ manufacturing and repair

Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2016;12(2):169-82. doi: 10.1586/1744666X.2016.1112268. Epub 2015 Dec 4.


Kidney transplantation (KT), as a modality of renal replacement therapy (RRT), has been shown to be both economically and functionally superior to dialysis for the treatment of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Progress in KT is limited by two major barriers: a) a chronic and burgeoning shortage of transplantable organs and b) the need for chronic immunosuppression following transplantation. Although ground-breaking advances in transplant immunology have improved patient survival and graft durability, a new pathway of innovation is needed in order to overcome current obstacles. Regenerative medicine (RM) holds the potential to shift the paradigm in RRT, through organ bioengineering. Manufactured organs represent a potentially inexhaustible source of transplantable grafts that would bypass the need for immunosuppressive drugs by using autologous cells to repopulate extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds. This overview discusses the current status of renal transplantation while reviewing the most promising innovations in RM therapy as applied to RRT.

Keywords: Kidney transplantation; bioengineering; decellularization; extracellular matrix; regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioengineering / methods*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Survival / immunology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / immunology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Kidney Transplantation / methods*
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Tissue Donors / classification
  • Tissue Donors / statistics & numerical data
  • Transplantation Immunology / immunology