The ultimate treatment for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is orthotopic transplantation. However, the demand for kidney transplantation far exceeds the number of available donor organs. While more than 100,000 Americans need a kidney, only 17,000 people receive a kidney transplant each year (National Kidney Foundation's estimations). In recent years, several regenerative medicine/tissue engineering approaches have been exploited to alleviate the kidney shortage crisis. Although these approaches have yielded promising results in experimental animal models, the kidney is a complex organ and translation into the clinical realm has been challenging to date. In this review, we will discuss cell therapy-based approaches for kidney regeneration and whole-kidney tissue engineering strategies, including our innovative approach to regenerate a functional kidney using the lymph node as an in vivo bioreactor.
Keywords: Cell-based regeneration; Kidney; Lymph node; Organogenesis; Whole-organ engineering.