A Simple Bioreactor-Based Method to Generate Kidney Organoids from Pluripotent Stem Cells

Stem Cell Reports. 2018 Aug 14;11(2):470-484. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.06.018. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Kidney organoids made from pluripotent stem cells have the potential to revolutionize how kidney development, disease, and injury are studied. Current protocols are technically complex, suffer from poor reproducibility, and have high reagent costs that restrict scalability. To overcome some of these issues, we have established a simple, inexpensive, and robust method to grow kidney organoids in bulk from human induced pluripotent stem cells. Our organoids develop tubular structures by day 8 and show optimal tissue morphology at day 14. A comparison with fetal human kidneys suggests that day-14 organoid tissue most closely resembles late capillary loop stage nephrons. We show that deletion of HNF1B, a transcription factor linked to congenital kidney defects, interferes with tubulogenesis, validating our experimental system for studying renal developmental biology. Taken together, our protocol provides a fast, efficient, and cost-effective method for generating large quantities of human fetal kidney tissue, enabling the study of normal and aberrant kidney development.

Keywords: 3D culture; CRISPR/Cas9; HNF1B; bioreactor; embryoid body; fetal human kidney; fibrosis; iPSC; kidney organoid; renal development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Bioreactors*
  • Cell Culture Techniques*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Fibrosis
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-beta / genetics
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Kidney / cytology*
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Nephrons / cytology
  • Organoids / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Biomarkers
  • HNF1B protein, human
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-beta