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  2. Feb 24, 2022

Using Human Kidney Organoids to Understand COVID-19

Study in a Sentence: Researchers found SARS-CoV-2 infections in post-mortem kidneys and an accompanying increase in kidney fibrosis. Then, to further investigate these findings, they infected human kidney organoids with SARS-CoV-2, uncovering the cellular mechanisms that lead to fibrosis. 

Healthy for Humans: Previous research has shown that COVID-19 causes acute kidney injury, which increases risk of mortality, but it has remained unclear whether it occurs as a result of acute respiratory distress syndrome or as a result of direct virus infection of kidney cells.

Redefining Research: These findings from post-mortem patient samples and kidney organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells indicate that SARS-CoV-2 does directly infect kidney cells, inducing a cascade of inflammation and fibrosis activity. This work may inform intensive care treatment and the treatment of chronic kidney disease in patients with long COVID.


Jansen J, Reimer KC, Nagai JS, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infects the human kidney and drives fibrosis in kidney organoids. Cell Stem Cell. 2021; 29(1-15)

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