(HealthDay News) — A multi-layered microfluidic device has been developed, which closely approximates the in vivo kidney environment, according to research published online in RSC Advances.

Courtney M Sakolish, PhD, and Gretchen J Mahler, PhD, from Binghamton University in New York, developed a re-useable multi-layered microfluidic device to model the human kidney. The device included a porous growth substrate, physiological fluid flow, and the passive filtration of the glomerulus. HK-2 immortalized human kidney proximal tubule cells were used as the target cell line. The authors exposed cells to a shear stress of 0.8 dyne cm−2 and monitored the cells for protein expression, cytoskeletal reorganization, and increased molecular transport. To allow for more realistic “primary urine” within these devices, an endothelial cell-seeded glomerular filter was used.

The researchers found cells grown within this device exhibited more in vivo-like behavior than cells grown using traditional culturing methods. Glomerular filtration of serum proteins was necessary for healthy cell function. The first in vitro model of passive glomerular filtration coupled within the proximal tubule was provided by the addition of the glomerulus-mimic to the device.

“The multi-layered microfluidic device proposed in this work allows for a close approximation of the in vivo environment that proximal tubule cells flourish in,” the authors write. “It has been observed that cells undergo increased junctional formation, polarization, cytoskeletal reorganization, and a significant up-regulation in transport proteins within this device.”

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  1. Sakolisha CM, Mahler GJ. A novel microfluidic device to model the human proximal tubule and glomerulus. RSC Adv. 16 January 2017.  DOI: 10.1039/C6RA25641D