Mapping the human kidney using single-cell genomics

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2022 Jun;18(6):347-360. doi: 10.1038/s41581-022-00553-4. Epub 2022 Mar 17.


The field of single-cell genomics and spatial technologies is rapidly evolving and has already provided unprecedented insights into complex tissues. Major advances have been made in dissecting the cellular composition and spatiotemporal interactions that mediate developmental processes in the fetal kidney. Single-cell technologies have also provided detailed insights into the heterogeneity of cell types within the healthy adult and shed light on the complex cellular mechanisms that contribute to kidney disease. The in-depth characterization of specific cell types associated with acute kidney injury and glomerular diseases has potential for the development of prognostic biomarkers and new therapeutics. Analyses of pathway activity in clear-cell renal cell carcinoma can predict the sensitivity of tumour cells to specific inhibitors. The identification of the cell of origin of renal cell carcinoma and of new cell types within the tumour microenvironment also has implications for the development of targeted therapeutics. Similarly, single-cell sequencing has provided new insights into the mechanisms underlying kidney fibrosis, specifically our understanding of myofibroblast origins and the contribution of cell crosstalk within the fibrotic niche to disease progression. These and future studies will enable the creation of a map to aid our understanding of the cellular processes and interactions in the developing, healthy and diseased kidney.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics