Generation of infant- and pediatric-derived urinary induced pluripotent stem cells competent to form kidney organoids

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Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a promising tool to investigate pathogenic mechanisms underlying human genetic conditions, such as congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). Currently, iPSC-based research in pediatrics is limited by the invasiveness of cell collection.


Urine cells (UCs) were isolated from pediatric urine specimens, including bag collections, and reprogrammed using episomal vectors into urinary iPSCs (UiPSCs). Following iPSC-quality assessment, human kidney organoids were generated.


UCs were isolated from 71% (12/17) of single, remnant urine samples obtained in an outpatient setting (patients 1 month–17 years, volumes 10–75 ml). Three independent UCs were reprogrammed to UiPSCs with early episome loss, confirmed pluripotency and normal karyotyping. Subsequently, these UiPSCs were successfully differentiated into kidney organoids, closely resembling organoids generated from control fibroblast-derived iPSCs. Importantly, under research conditions with immediate sample processing, UC isolation was successful 100% for target pediatric CAKUT patients and controls (11/11) after at most two urine collections.


Urine in small volumes or collected in bags is a reliable source for reprogrammable somatic cells that can be utilized to generate kidney organoids. This constitutes an attractive approach for patient-specific iPSC research involving infants and children with wide applicability and a low threshold for participation.

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We thank Natasha Jawa, Wei Wei, Alina Piekna, Monica Piekut, Michele Reddon, and Josefina Brooks for their support. We thank Dr. Bruce Conklin (Gladstone Institute, San Francisco, CA) for providing the WTC11 iPSCs. This work was supported by Canadian Institute of Health Research and Tier I Canada Research Chair (to N.D.R.), The Hospital for Sick Children/Research Institute/RestraComp (to J.M. and S.S.), and Medicine by Design and McLaughlin Center grants (to J.E.).

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All authors met the Pediatric Research authorship requirements. Conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data: J.M., S.S., T.C., D.C.R., M.R.H., R.D.C., N.D.R. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content: J.M., D.C.R., M.R.H., I.R., J.E., N.D.R. Final approval of the version to be published: J.M., N.D.R.

Correspondence to Norman D. Rosenblum.

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Mulder, J., Sharmin, S., Chow, T. et al. Generation of infant- and pediatric-derived urinary induced pluripotent stem cells competent to form kidney organoids. Pediatr Res (2019) doi:10.1038/s41390-019-0618-y

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