Purpose and impact

The purpose of a working group on kidney on a chip is to bring together hDMT members focusing on kidney disease models, kidney regeneration and kidney in vitro models for drug screening. This working group aims to promote interaction, share knowledge, and provide opportunities for collaboration.

By sharing expertise and facilities, this working group will advance the development of functional human kidney organoids (for health and disease). These systems could be used to unravel mechanisms of kidney disease. The in vitro models developed herein can also be used as a human measurement model for the investigation of pathophysiology of metabolic bone diseases, for screening of potential pharmacological compounds for improving kidney quality, even on a personalized basis. These tools can also be used to further advance the development of a bioartificial kidney device.

Program coordinators

Silvia Mihăilă
Utrecht University

Jitske Jansen
Erasmus MC

Upcoming meetings

  • 27 February (10-16h, Radboudumc)
  • 25 September (10-16h, UMCU)

Previous meetings

  • 28 September 2023 (13-16:45h, Online)
  • 16 march 2023 (UU)



To mimic the structural, cellular and functional complexity of the kidney and to address the remote connection/ interactions with other organs via metabolic regulations several issues need to be resolved:

  • Maturation of kidney organoids
  • Differentiation and isolation of different cell types
  • Physiological consideration related to kidney function (urine formation, albumin reabsorption, glomerular filtration and tubular secretion)
  • Replicating the interstitial space that supports the vasculature and the tubular system of the nephron
  • Perfusable systems to assess transepithelial transport of (toxic) compounds

Collaboration partners

  • National: RegMedXB, MDR, Proefdiervrij, Dutch Kidney Foundation, NBTE
  • International: European Society of Artificial Organs (ESAO), European Renal Association – European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA), TERMIS, International Society for Biofabrication (ISB), American Society of Nephrology (ASN), The European Organ-on-Chip Society (EUROoCS)
  • Printing/ microfluidics companies: Poietis, RegenHu, Cellink/BICO, Readily3D, Aspect Biobioprinting, Mimetas, Allevi, Dolomite



Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a healthcare problem worldwide and affects about 10% of the adult population in the USA [1]. CKD often leads to low glomerular filtration rate, high urinary albumin excretion, interstitial fibrosis, anemia, hyperphosphatemia and additional complications like cardiovascular disease and hypertension [2]. The typical pathological progression of CKD is gradual, irreversible loss of nephrons, the distinct functional compartments of kidneys [3]. The process of nephrogenesis, the formation of new nephrons, ceases shortly before birth [4] Thus, the loss of nephrons can only be attenuated but not reversed, and eventually results in end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) [5].

Generally, the only therapeutic options for patients with ESRD are dialysis or kidney transplantation. Life-long dialysis reduces the quality of life and has side effects such as hypotension, high infection rate, and loss of erythropoietin and activated vitamin D. In addition, there are problems related to transplantation including donor organ shortage, transplant rejection, high cost, increased infections and potential tumor formation caused by immunosuppression [6].

The kidney is a complex organ and consists of over 20 different types of cells which are constructed into individual anatomical and functional units including the glomerulus, and proximal and distal tubules. The structural and functional unit of the kidney, the nephron, is engaged in highly specialized functions via the coordinated activity of transporters and response mechanism, making susceptible to injury (e.g. drug- induced, diabetes, etc).

The growing number of CKD/ESRD cases and the shortage of transplantable kidneys have caused increasing interest in renal regenerative treatment, renal disease models and bioartificial kidneys [7]. Drug injury assessment relies heavily on experimental animal models, and it is difficult to precisely reflect the same predictive capacity in humans. In recent years, various protocols have been developed to establish cell lines capable of reproducing important metabolic and solute transport function of the kidney [8,9] for drug screening purposes and as cell components for the bioartificial kidney [10].  Meanwhile, the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), such as human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into different renal-like cell types and self-organizing kidney organoids has been extensively documented. At the moment, the maturation degree of the kidney organoids is primitive, thus, efforts are made to improve their commitment to functional nephrons [11, 12].


Successful Kidney-on-Chip Kick-off meeting

The Kick-off meeting of the hDMT Kidney-on-Chip theme group, coordinated by Silvia Mihăilă (chair, Utrecht University) and Jitske Jansen (vice-chair,...

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  1. Coresh J. et al. JAMA. 2007;298(17):2038–2047
  2. Gansevoort RT. et al. Lancet. 2013;382(9889):339–352.
  3. Morizane R. et al. Nat Biotechnol. 2015;33(11):1193–1200. 
  4. Little MH. et al. Kidney Int. 2016;90(2):289–299. 
  5. Morizane R. et al. Stem Cells. 2017;35(11):2209–2217
  6. Sarno G. et al. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017;18(3):323–334. 
  7. Chuah JKC. et al. Biotechnol Adv. 2017;35(2):150–167.
  8. Nieskens TT. et al. AAPS J. 2016 Mar;18(2):465-75. doi: 10.1208/s12248-016-9871-8. Epub 2016 Jan 28.
  9. Mihajlovic M. et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov 26;18(12):2531. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122531. PMID: 29186865; PMCID: PMC5751134
  10. Legallais C. et.al.  Adv Healthc Mater. 2018 Nov;7(21):e1800430. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201800430. Epub 2018 Sep 19. PMID: 30230709.
  11. van Genderen AM. at al.  2021 Jan 18;8:617364. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.617364. PMID: 33537294; PMCID: PMC7848123.
  12. Lindoso RS. et al. bioRxiv 2022.02.08.479621; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.02.08.479621

Grant applications

  • (granted) Health Holland: Drug disposition On-a-Chip: a multi-organ-on-chip model tailored to mimic pharmacokinetics in vitro (Masereeuw)
  • (granted) NOW-XS: Modeling-driven microfluidic device with wavy configurations to evaluate solutes removal for BAK applications (Mihăilă)
  • (granted) NWA research program ‘Research along Routes by Consortia (ORC): Virtual Human Platform (Masereeuw)
  • (Submitted) NWO-M2 (Mihăilă-Moreira Teixeira)
  • (granted) NWO Veni grant (Jansen)
  • (granted) DKF Kolff Junior Postdoc grant (Jansen)
  • (granted) H2020-FETOPEN-2020-01, BIRDIE – Bioprinting on-chip microphysiological models of humanized kidney tubulointerstitium ( Mota)
  • (granted) H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019, SINERGIA – advanced technologies for drug discovery and precision medicine: in vitro modelling human physiology and disease ( Mota)
  • (granted) DKF Innovation, 2018, NeMoCell – In vitro Nephron model generated through morphogenesis of pluripotent stem cells (C.Mota)
  • (granted) NWO VICI, 2020, 3D-Shrink – Functional materials for high resolution 3D bioprinting in kidney engineering (3D-Shrink), (T.Vermonden)