3D Culture Supports Long-Term Expansion of Mouse and Human Nephrogenic Progenitors

Cell Stem Cell. 2016 Oct 6;19(4):516-529. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


Transit-amplifying nephron progenitor cells (NPCs) generate all of the nephrons of the mammalian kidney during development. Their limited numbers, poor in vitro expansion, and difficult accessibility in humans have slowed basic and translational research into renal development and diseases. Here, we show that with appropriate 3D culture conditions, it is possible to support long-term expansion of primary mouse and human fetal NPCs as well as NPCs derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Expanded NPCs maintain genomic stability, molecular homogeneity, and nephrogenic potential in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. Cultured NPCs are amenable to gene targeting and can form nephron organoids that engraft in vivo, functionally couple to the host's circulatory system, and produce urine-like metabolites via filtration. Together, these findings provide a technological platform for studying human nephrogenesis, modeling and diagnosing renal diseases, and drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Editing
  • Humans
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Mice
  • Nephrons / cytology*
  • Organogenesis*
  • Organoids / cytology
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Time Factors