Fabrication of Kidney Proximal Tubule Grafts Using Biofunctionalized Electrospun Polymer Scaffolds

Macromol Biosci. 2019 Feb;19(2):e1800412. doi: 10.1002/mabi.201800412. Epub 2018 Dec 13.


The increasing prevalence of end-stage renal disease and persistent shortage of donor organs call for alternative therapies for kidney patients. Dialysis remains an inferior treatment as clearance of large and protein-bound waste products depends on active tubular secretion. Biofabricated tissues could make a valuable contribution, but kidneys are highly intricate and multifunctional organs. Depending on the therapeutic objective, suitable cell sources and scaffolds must be selected. This study provides a proof-of-concept for stand-alone kidney tubule grafts with suitable mechanical properties for future implantation purposes. Porous tubular nanofiber scaffolds are fabricated by electrospinning 12%, 16%, and 20% poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) v/w (chloroform and dimethylformamide, 1:3) around 0.7 mm needle templates. The resulting scaffolds consist of 92%, 69%, and 54% nanofibers compared to microfibers, respectively. After biofunctionalization with L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and collagen IV, 10 × 106 proximal tubule cells per mL are injected and cultured until experimental readout. A human-derived cell model can bridge all fiber-to-fiber distances to form a monolayer, whereas small-sized murine cells form monolayers on dense nanofiber meshes only. Fabricated constructs remain viable for at least 3 weeks and maintain functionality as shown by inhibitor-sensitive transport activity, which suggests clearance capacity for both negatively and positively charged solutes.

Keywords: polycaprolactone; regenerative medicine; renal replacement therapy; renal transport; tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use
  • Caproates / chemistry
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / cytology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / surgery*
  • Lactones / chemistry
  • Polymers
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds*
  • Transplants / growth & development*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Caproates
  • Lactones
  • Polymers
  • caprolactone