Microphysiological Model

Building up a biologically-relevant microphysiological model of the human renal tubulointerstitium is a complex task that requires to start with models of lower complexity. During BIRDIE project we are looking to set up long-term microphysiological models of human renal proximal cells cultured under physiological and disease states. Starting with a basic microphysiological model of human renal proximal cell monolayer using off-the-shelf materials from TissUse GmbH, this flat model will serve to define steady-state culture conditions under fluid shear stress, i.e., cell types, ECM component coating, culture media, etc. The optimized model will be challenged with both BK virus infection1,2,3 and nephrotoxic drugs, and transcriptomics will be used as a guidance system to constantly assess the proximity of our models compared to healthy or diseased native renal sorted cells and tissues.

iPSC-based models

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) allow the generation of renal progenitors and organoids relevant for kidney in vitro models.6,7 Several models have been developed based on iPSCs-derived kidney organoids showing a certain degree of function of early rudiments. These self-assembled rudiments of the organ counterpart lack essential structures such as vasculature, which impairs the maturation and functions to the levels of the mature organ. IPSCs-derived organoids will be generated and combined with bioprinting and microfluidics for nephrotoxicity and viral infection screenings.


Bioprinting technologies have gradually allowed to achieve an enormous progress on the manufacturing of tissue and organ-like 3D models, however these still display limited functionality.4 The combination of multiple bioprinting techniques is of paramount importance to achieve a broader range of complexity and mimicry in kidney models. Within BIRDIE we will use multiple bioprinting techniques to produce macro-size features and Fluicell’s unique single cell bioprinting5 to fine-tune cellular compositions within the kidney tubulointerstitium space.

Organ on a chip

Organ-on-a-chip systems enable a co-culture of physiologically relevant tissue models in a closed microfluidic circuit emulating the blood perfusion. Various multi-organ co-cultures have been performed previously on-chip and include liver8, 9, skin8, intestinal8, 9, neuronal9, kidney9, bone marrow10, vasculature11, pancreatic islet12, testis13 and lung14 models. The ability of the chips to host three-dimensional organ models in a controlled microenvironment under constant media perfusion enables them to create and maintain homeostasis. During the BIRDIE project a novel chip enabling a dual perfusion of a kidney model by overlapping a blood and a urinary microfluidic circuit will be developed by TissUse GmbH. This chip will harbor the 3D bioprinted models developed within the other work packages.


  • Maaike F.J. Fransen, Gabriele Addario, Carlijn V.C. Bouten, Franck Halary, Lorenzo Moroni, Carlos Mota; Bioprinting of kidney in vitro models: cells, biomaterials, and manufacturing techniques. Essays Biochem 10 August 2021; 65 (3): 587–602. doi:


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