Development of the Mammalian Kidney

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2016;117:31-64. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2015.10.010. Epub 2016 Jan 23.


The basic unit of kidney function is the nephron. In the mouse, around 14,000 nephrons form in a 10-day period extending into early neonatal life, while the human fetus forms the adult complement of nephrons in a 32-week period completed prior to birth. This review discusses our current understanding of mammalian nephrogenesis: the contributing cell types and the regulatory processes at play. A conceptual developmental framework has emerged for the mouse kidney. This framework is now guiding studies of human kidney development enabled in part by in vitro systems of pluripotent stem cell-seeded nephrogenesis. A near future goal will be to translate our developmental knowledge-base to the productive engineering of new kidney structures for regenerative medicine.

Keywords: Cell signaling; Development; Disease; Injury; Kidney; Nephron; Patterning; Progenitor cell; Stem cell; Transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / growth & development*
  • Mice
  • Nephrons / growth & development*
  • Organogenesis / physiology*
  • Regenerative Medicine*