Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and unsolved health issue worldwide. The kidneys rarely recover function once they are damaged by disease, highlighting the urgent need for better knowledge of kidney development and physiology.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have generated three-dimensional kidney structures from human stem cells, opening new avenues for studying the development and diseases of the kidneys and to the discovery of new drugs that target human kidney cells.
Senior study author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and holder of the Roger Guillemin Chair said that they have developed a simple and efficient method that allows for the differentiation of human stem cells into well-organized 3D structures of the ureteric bud (UB), which later develops into the collecting duct system.
The Salk findings demonstrate for the first time that pluripotent stem cells (PSCs)-cells capable of differentiating into the many cells and tissue types that make up the body- can made to develop into cells similar to those found in the ureteric bud, an early developmental structure of the kidneys, and then be further differentiated into three-dimensional structures in organ cultures.
UB cells form the early stages of the human urinary and reproductive organs during development and later develop into a conduit for urine drainage from the kidneys. The scientists accomplished this with both human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), human cells from the skin that have been reprogrammed into their pluripotent state.
"Our differentiation strategies represent the cornerstone of disease modeling and drug discovery studies. Our observations will help guide future studies on the precise cellular implications that PKD might play in the context of kidney development," lead study author Ignacio Sancho-Martinez, a research associate in Izpisua Belmonte's laboratory, said.
The study is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
--ANI (Posted on 19-11-2013)