Induction of steady-state glomeruloid sphere by self-assembly from human embryonic kidney cells.


Department of Nephrology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Tokushima University Graduate School, Tokushima, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


The glomerulus is a network of capillaries known as a tuft, located at the beginning of a nephron in the kidney. Here we describe a novel method for the induction of a macroscopically visible three-dimensional glomerulus-like sphere (GLS). This procedure did not require any additional cytokines and completed the formation of spheres within 24 h. After the formation was complete, GLS maintained a steady state for at least five days without proliferation and without a decrease in viability. Therefore, this procedure assists various assays for a prolong period of time. Overall, our protocol allows for a very simple mixing of cells from different sources to obtain fine-grained and highly dispersed GLSs. The kidney filtration barrier is a unique structure characterized by a complex three-dimensional framework of podocytes and endothelial cells. GLS exhibited the induction of many podocyte-specific gene profiles similar to those in adult human kidneys, suggesting that the sphere formation process is important for the maturation of podocytes. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is one of the major causes of steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome, and some circulating permeability factors in the patient's serum FSGS have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease. Serum from patients with FSGS induced the collapse of GLS, which imitates the appearance of glomerulosclerosis in patients. In conclusion, the investigation and use of GLS may provide a novel method to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying complicated and unexplained events in glomeruli in a similar condition in adult kidneys.



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