Objective: To provide a standardized protocol for large-scale production of proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) generated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC).
Methods: The hPSC were expanded and differentiated into PTEC on matrix-coated alginate beads in an automated levitating fluidic platform bioLevitator. Differentiation efficacy was evaluated by immunofluorescence staining and flow cytometry, ultrastructure visualized by electron microscopy. Active reabsorption by PTEC was investigated by glucose, albumin, organic anions and cations uptake assays. Finally, the response to cisplatin-treatment was assessed to check the potential use of PTEC to model drug-induced nephrotoxicity.
Results: hPSC expansion and PTEC differentiation could be performed directly on matrix-coated alginate beads in suspension bioreactors. Renal precursors arose 4 days post hPSC differentiation and PTEC after 8 days with 80% efficiency, with a 10-fold expansion from hPSC in 24 days. PTEC on beads, exhibited microvilli and clear apico-basal localization of markers. Functionality of PTECs was confirmed by uptake of glucose, albumin, organic anions and cations and expression of KIM-1 after Cisplatin treatment.
Conclusion: We demonstrate the efficient expansion of hPSC, controlled differentiation to renal progenitors and further specification to polarized tubular epithelial cells. This is the first report employing biolevitation and matrix-coated beads in a completely defined medium for the scalable and potentially automatable production of functional human PTEC.