Fabrication of kidney proximal tubule grafts using biofunctionalized electrospun polymer scaffolds


  • K. Jansen
  • M. Castilho
  • S. Aarts
  • M.M. Kaminski
  • S.S. Lienkamp
  • R. Pichler
  • J. Malda
  • T. Vermonden
  • J. Jansen
  • R. Masereeuw


  • Macromolecular Bioscience


  • Macromol Biosci 19 (2): e1800412


  • The increasing prevalence of end-stage renal disease and persistent shortage of donor organs call for alternative therapies for kidney patients. Dialysis remains an inferior treatment as clearance of large and protein-bound waste products depends on active tubular secretion. Biofabricated tissues could make a valuable contribution, but kidneys are highly intricate and multifunctional organs. Depending on the therapeutic objective, suitable cell sources and scaffolds must be selected. This study provides a proof-of-concept for stand-alone kidney tubule grafts with suitable mechanical properties for future implantation purposes. Porous tubular nanofiber scaffolds are fabricated by electrospinning 12%, 16%, and 20% poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) v/w (chloroform and dimethylformamide, 1:3) around 0.7 mm needle templates. The resulting scaffolds consist of 92%, 69%, and 54% nanofibers compared to microfibers, respectively. After biofunctionalization with L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and collagen IV, 10 × 10(6) proximal tubule cells per mL are injected and cultured until experimental readout. A human-derived cell model can bridge all fiber-to-fiber distances to form a monolayer, whereas small-sized murine cells form monolayers on dense nanofiber meshes only. Fabricated constructs remain viable for at least 3 weeks and maintain functionality as shown by inhibitor-sensitive transport activity, which suggests clearance capacity for both negatively and positively charged solutes.