PKHhigh/CD133+/CD24- Renal Stem-Like Cells Isolated from Human Nephrospheres Exhibit In Vitro Multipotency

Silvia Bombelli, Chiara Meregalli, Chiara Grasselli, Maddalena M. Bolognesi, Antonino Bruno, Stefano Eriani, Barbara Torsello, Sofia De Marco, Davide P. Bernasconi, Nicola Zucchini, Paolo Mazzola, Cristina Bianchi, Marco Grasso, Adriana Albini, Giorgio Cattoretti, Roberto A. Perego

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanism upon which human kidneys undergo regeneration is debated, though different lineage-tracing mouse models have tried to explain the cellular types and the mechanisms involved. Different sources of human renal progenitors have been proposed, but it is difficult to argue whether these populations have the same capacities that have been described in mice. Using the nephrosphere (NS) model, we isolated the quiescent population of adult human renal stem-like PKHhigh/CD133+/CD24- cells (RSC). The aim of this study was to deepen the RSC in vitro multipotency capacity. RSC, not expressing endothelial markers, generated secondary nephrospheres containing CD31+/vWf+ cells and cytokeratin positive cells, indicating the coexistence of endothelial and epithelial commitment. RSC cultured on decellularized human renal scaffolds generated endothelial structures together with the proximal and distal tubular structures. CD31+ endothelial committed progenitors sorted from nephrospheres generated spheroids with endothelial-like sprouts in Matrigel. We also demonstrated the double commitment toward endothelial and epithelial lineages of single RSC. The ability of the plastic RSC population to recapitulate the development of tubular epithelial and endothelial renal lineages makes these cells a good tool for the creation of organoids with translational relevance for studying the parenchymal and endothelial cell interactions and developing new therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 29 2020


  • endothelium
  • human adult stem cell
  • kidney
  • multipotency
  • nephrosphere
  • scaffold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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