Glomerular filtration barrier modeling on a chip with tunable basement membrane deposition and 3D cultured podocytes

Jaehoon Kim, Hyunho Kim, Jeong Suk Kang, Eun Soo Lee, Choon Hee Chung, Hyun Jeong Oh, Yong Tae Kim, Seok Chung, Eun Young Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vitro investigation of a glomerular filtration barrier (GFB) remains difficult because of the inability to mimic its specialized structure, although various kidney diseases are characterized by GFB dysfunction. Here, the development of a microfluidic model that replicates the physiology of the GFB has been achieved by tunable glomerular basement membrane (gBM) deposition and 3D co-culture of podocytes with glomerular endothelial cells (gECs). By precisely controlling the thickness of the gBM, our model successfully reproduced the biphasic response of the GFB, where variations in gBM thickness influence barrier properties. Moreover, this microscale proximity of gECs and podocytes facilitated their dynamic crosstalk, which is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of the GFB. We observed that addition of gBM and podocytes enhanced barrier function of gECs by inducing up-regulation of gEC's tight junctions synergistically, and moreover, found an ultrastructure of gECs-gBM-podocytes' foot process contacting each other by confocal and TEM imaging. The dynamic interaction of gECs and podocytes played a significant role in the response to drug-induced injury and the regulation of barrier properties. Nephrotoxic injury simulated in our model helped to elucidate that the over-production of vascular endothelial growth factor A from the injured podocytes mediates GFB impairment. We believe that our GFB model can provide a valuable tool for mechanistic studies such as investigating GFB biology, comprehending disease mechanisms, and evaluating potential therapeutic approaches in a controlled and physiologically relevant environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3501-3517
Number of pages17
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun 29

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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