A Personalized Glomerulus Chip Engineered from Stem Cell-Derived Epithelium and Vascular Endothelium

Organ Model: Kidney (Glomerulus)

Application: Toxicology

Abstract: Progress in understanding kidney disease mechanisms and the development of targeted therapeutics have been limited by the lack of functional in vitro models that can closely recapitulate human physiological responses. Organ Chip (or organ-on-a-chip) microfluidic devices provide unique opportunities to overcome some of these challenges given their ability to model the structure and function of tissues and organs in vitro. Previously established organ chip models typically consist of heterogenous cell populations sourced from multiple donors, limiting their applications in patient-specific disease modeling and personalized medicine. In this study, we engineered a personalized glomerulus chip system reconstituted from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-derived vascular endothelial cells (ECs) and podocytes from a single patient. Our stem cell-derived kidney glomerulus chip successfully mimics the structure and some essential functions of the glomerular filtration barrier. We further modeled glomerular injury in our tissue chips by administering a clinically relevant dose of the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin. The drug disrupts the structural integrity of the endothelium and the podocyte tissue layers, leading to significant albuminuria as observed in patients with glomerulopathies. We anticipate that the personalized glomerulus chip model established in this report could help advance future studies of kidney disease mechanisms and the discovery of personalized therapies. Given the remarkable ability of human iPS cells to differentiate into almost any cell type, this work also provides a blueprint for the establishment of more personalized organ chip and ‘body-on-a-chip’ models in the future.