Mechanism and reversal of drug-induced nephrotoxicity on a chip

Aaron Cohen, Konstantinos Ioannidis, Avner Ehrlich, Shaun Regenbaum, Merav Cohen, Muneef Ayyash, Sigal Shafran Tikva, Yaakov Nahmias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The kidney plays a critical role in fluid homeostasis, glucose control, and drug excretion. Loss of kidney function due to drug-induced nephrotoxicity affects over 20% of the adult population. The kidney proximal tubule is a complex vascularized structure that is particularly vulnerable to drug-induced nephrotoxicity. Here, we introduce a model of vascularized human kidney spheroids with integrated tissue-embedded microsensors for oxygen, glucose, lactate, and glutamine, providing real-time assessment of cellular metabolism. Our model shows that both the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine and the anticancer drug cisplatin disrupt proximal tubule polarity at subtoxic concentrations, leading to glucose accumulation and lipotoxicity. Impeding glucose reabsorption using glucose transport inhibitors blocked cyclosporine and cisplatin toxicity by 1000- to 3-fold, respectively. Retrospective study of 247 patients who were diagnosed with kidney damage receiving cyclosporine or cisplatin in combination with the sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor empagliflozin showed significant (P < 0.001) improvement of kidney function, as well as reduction in creatinine and uric acid, markers of kidney damage. These results demonstrate the potential of sensor-integrated kidney-on-chip platforms to elucidate mechanisms of action and rapidly reformulate effective therapeutic solutions, increasing drug safety and reducing the cost of clinical and commercial failures.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbereabd6299
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number582
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2021

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Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works


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