Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic condition in which the tubules of the kidneys grow to become deformed, leading to cysts to grow on the organ. Studying this disease has been a challenge because of the difficulty of modeling it in the laboratory. Now researchers led by a team at the University of Washington have been able to grow kidney organoids from human stem cells that form cysts much like those in polycystic kidney disease (PKD). The investigators then used these organoids to study how different stimuli affect cyst formation and development. It’s been known that polycystin protein plays a key role in the disease, but thanks to the new kidney organoids, the researchers noticed that they can manipulate the activity of this protein. The research will hopefully help to increase the options available for treating PKD.
Additionally, the new organoids have been used to study podocytes, the cells that turn blood plasma into urine. Because their activity could be viewed under a microscope inside a laboratory, the researchers were actually able to see how slit diaphragms, the miniscule components that form the filters of podocytes, actually grow. This finding may help address another congenital condition called glomerulosclerosis, another congenital in which the blood vessels of the kidneys form scars.
Related studies in Nature Materials: Organoid cystogenesis reveals a critical role of microenvironment in human polycystic… and journal Stem Cells: Gene-Edited Human Kidney Organoids Reveal Mechanisms of Disease in Podocyte Development…
Via: UW Medicine…
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