Graft immaturity and safety concerns in transplanted human kidney organoids

Sun Ah Nam, Eunjeong Seo, Jin Won Kim, Hyung Wook Kim, Hong Lim Kim, Kyuryung Kim, Tae Min Kim, Ji Hyeon Ju, Ivan G. Gomez, Kohei Uchimura, Benjamin D. Humphreys, Chul Woo Yang, Jae Yeon Lee, Jin Kim, Dong Woo Cho, Benjamin S. Freedman, Yong Kyun Kim

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47 Scopus citations


For chronic kidney disease, regeneration of lost nephrons with human kidney organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells is proposed to be an attractive potential therapeutic option. It remains unclear, however, whether organoids transplanted into kidneys in vivo would be safe or functional. Here, we purified kidney organoids and transplanted them beneath the kidney capsules of immunodeficient mice to test their safety and maturity. Kidney organoid grafts survived for months after transplantation and became vascularized from host mouse endothelial cells. Nephron-like structures in grafts appeared more mature than kidney organoids in vitro, but remained immature compared with the neighboring mouse kidney tissue. Ultrastructural analysis revealed filtration barrier-like structures, capillary lumens, and tubules with brush border in the transplanted kidney organoids, which were more mature than those of the kidney organoids in vitro but not as organized as adult mammalian kidneys. Immaturity was a common feature of three separate differentiation protocols by immunofluorescence analysis and single cell RNA sequencing. Stroma of transplanted kidney organoid grafts were filled with vimentin-positive mesenchymal cells, and chondrogenesis, cystogenesis, and stromal expansion were observed in the long term. Transcription profiles showed that long-term maintenance after kidney organoid transplantation induced transcriptomic reprogramming with prominent suppression of cell-cycle-related genes and upregulation of extracellular matrix organization. Our data suggest that kidney organoids derived from iPS cells may be transplantable but strategies to improve nephron differentiation and purity are required before they can be applied in humans as a therapeutic option.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalExperimental and Molecular Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


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