Electrospun scaffolds for kidney tissue engineering: on the way towards kidney organoids

Chronic kidney disease is one of the deadliest diseases all around the world. Current healing methods mostly rely on transplantation and dialysis. Engineering of kidney tissues in vitro from induced pluripotent stem cells could provide a solution by restoring the function of damaged kidneys. Electrospinning is a technique that has shown promise in the development of physiological microenvironments of several tissues and could be applied in the engineering of kidney tissues as well.

So far several approaches with electrospinning were attempted. Synthetic polymers such as PCL, PLA and PVOH have been explored in the manufacturing of fibers that promote the proliferation and cell-to-cell interactions of kidney cells. Also natural polymers like silk fibroin have been explored alone and in combination with synthetic polymers promoting the differentiation of podocytes and tubular specific cells. Natural polymers are highly interesting but in many cases they do not provide the mechanical resistance required, that is the reason for combining with synthetic polymers which can balance the lack of resistance.

Furthermore, the use of the electrospinning technique in combination with other manufacturing methods such as bioprinting are highly promising aiming to develop more organized, mature and reproducible kidney organoids. It is important to take into account that kidney cells’ behaviour is strongly dictated by the complex 3D microenvironment. Kidney organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells can be attractive 3D models for different purposes, including to model kidney embryonic development, kidney disease, and renal regeneration. The electrospinning technique is also compatible with live cells encapsulating them in the desired environment.

Electrospinning have been demonstrated to be a promising technique to develop kidney tissues in vitro. However it is still a challenge the lack of knowledge in the specific stimulus required to create kidney organoids. In essence, electrospinning for tissue engineering offers significant benefits due to its unique ability to create biomimetic structures. It can fabricate fibrous scaffolds that closely resemble the extracellular matrix of tissues, promoting cell growth and tissue regeneration. Furthermore, electrospinning for tissue engineering applications allows control over fiber diameter and porosity, aiding in the customization of scaffolds. Electrospinning for tissue engineering has shown to be promising in areas like bone, skin, organs and vascular grafts. Its versatility enhances the potential of electrospinning for tissue engineering applications, marking a significant step forward in regenerative medicine.

Further information can be found in the paper written by Claudia C. Miranda, Mariana Ramalho, Mariana Moço, Joaquim Cabral, Federico Castelo Ferreira and Paola Sanjuan-Alberte from Universidade de Lisboa.