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Protocols have been established to direct the differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into nephron progenitor cells and organoids containing many types of kidney cells, but it has been difficult to direct the differentiation of iPS cells to form specific types of mature human kidney cells with high yield. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for the directed differentiation of human iPS cells into mature, post-mitotic kidney glomerular podocytes with high (>90%) efficiency within 26 d and under chemically defined conditions, without genetic manipulations or subpopulation selection. We also describe how these iPS cell-derived podocytes may be induced to form within a microfluidic organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) culture device to build a human kidney Glomerulus Chip that mimics the structure and function of the kidney glomerular capillary wall in vitro within 35 d (starting with undifferentiated iPS cells). The podocyte differentiation protocol requires skills for culturing iPS cells, and the development of a Glomerulus Chip requires some experience with building and operating microfluidic cell culture systems. This method could be useful for applications in nephrotoxicity screening, therapeutic development, and regenerative medicine, as well as mechanistic study of kidney development and disease.
PMID: 29995874 [PubMed - in process]