As current kidney replacement therapies are not efficient enough for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) treatment, a bioartificial kidney (BAK) device, based on conditionally immortalized human proximal tubule epithelial cells (ciPTEC), could represent an attractive solution. The active transport activity of such a system was recently demonstrated. In addition, endocrine functions of the cells, such as vitamin D activation, are relevant. The organic anion transporter 1 (OAT-1) overexpressing ciPTEC line presented 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), 24-hydroxylase (CYP24A1) and vitamin D receptor (VDR), responsible for vitamin D activation, degradation and function, respectively. The ability to produce and secrete 1α,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D₃, was shown after incubation with the precursor, 25-hydroxy-vitamin D₃. The beneficial effect of vitamin D on cell function and behavior in uremic conditions was studied in the presence of an anionic uremic toxins mixture. Vitamin D could restore cell viability, and inflammatory and oxidative status, as shown by cell metabolic activity, interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, respectively. Finally, vitamin D restored transepithelial barrier function, as evidenced by decreased inulin-FITC leakage in biofunctionalized hollow fiber membranes (HFM) carrying ciPTEC-OAT1. In conclusion, the protective effects of vitamin D in uremic conditions and proven ciPTEC-OAT1 endocrine function encourage the use of these cells for BAK application.
Keywords: bioartificial kidney; chronic kidney disease; conditionally immortalized proximal tubule cells; end-stage renal disease; epithelial barrier; uremic toxins; vitamin D.