Modeling Distal Convoluted Tubule (Patho)Physiology: An Overview of Past Developments and an Outlook Toward the Future

Charlotte J.A. Olde Hanhof, Fjodor A. Yousef Yengej, Maarten B. Rookmaaker, Marianne C. Verhaar, Jenny van der Wijst, and Joost G. Hoenderop

Published: March 2021


The kidneys are essential for maintaining electrolyte homeostasis. Blood electrolyte composition is controlled by active reabsorption and secretion processes in dedicated segments of the kidney tubule. Specifically, the distal convoluted tubule (DCT) and connecting tubule are important for regulating the final excretion of sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Studies unravelling the specific function of these segments have greatly improved our understanding of DCT (patho)physiology. Over the years, experimental models used to study the DCT have changed and the field has advanced from early dissection studies with rats and rabbits to the use of various transgenic mouse models. Developments in dissection techniques and cell culture methods have resulted in immortalized mouse DCT cell lines and made it possible to specifically obtain DCT fragments for ex vivo studies. However, we still do not fully understand the complex (patho)physiology of this segment and there is need for advanced human DCT models. Recently, kidney organoids and tubuloids have emerged as new complex cell models that provide excellent opportunities for physiological studies, disease modeling, drug discovery, and even personalized medicine in the future. This review presents an overview of cell models used to study the DCT and provides an outlook on kidney organoids and tubuloids as model for DCT (patho)physiology.

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