An overview of the STELLAR contribution to the ISN forefronts symposium on Stem Cells and Kidney Regeneration.

Experts from around the globe assembled in Florence for the ISN Forefronts Symposium on Stem cells and kidney regeneration. During this 4 day symposium various aspects of stem cells and their use for kidney regeneration were presented and discussed .

The majority of the STELLAR members were present and actively contributed to the symposium either as speakers, poster presenters and/or chairperson to one or more of the sessions.

On Thursday September 12 posters were displayed by a number of STELLAR members: Danielle Leuning, Joan Li and Martina Aleksinskaya. The posters discussed the following topics: “Characterization of human kidney derived mesenchymal stromal cells”, “Epithelial origin and specific differentiation potential of endogenous renal MSC-like cells” and “Chronic kidney disease is associated with hematopoietic stem cell niche dysfunction”.

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On Friday September 13 Melissa Little presented her work on transcription factor driven reprogramming of various cell types to the nephron progenitor population. This type of cells gives rise to all daughter cells forming the nephrons, the building blocks of the kidney crucial for healthy kidney function.

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Three of the five poster abstracts selected for oral presentation were provided by researchers affiliated to the STELLAR consortium.

  • Roel Bijkerk discussed his work on the protective effect of MIR-126 against renal ischemia reperfusion injury through the promotion of vascular integrity.
  • Joan Li discussed her work on endogenous MSC like cells from the kidney, showing that they have the potential to integrate into the neonatal collecting duct via mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. If these cells play a role in normal tissue turnover they might be useful in the treatment of renal damage.
  • Elena Lazzari discussed her work on the isolation and characterization of urine-derived renal progenitors from pediatric patients affected by glomerular diseases. These cells which can be readily obtained might provide a useful tool to study underlying genetic causes of renal disease.

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Friday evening was concluded with an informal STELLAR training. All junior STELLAR members assembled over dinner for a discussion on science and the STELLAR project with board members Ton Rabelink, Joost de Bruijn and Melissa Little. This get together allowed the STELLAR team to get to know each other and strengthen collaborations for the coming years of the project. STELLAR was fortunate enough to be able to invite Benjamin Humphreys to the training session. He is the director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Kidney Program and one of the main players in the field of regenerative medicine approaches for kidney regeneration.

On September 14 Paola Ramagnani one of the organizers of the meeting and STELLAR member, presented her work on renal progenitors and kidney regeneration. STELLAR member and president of the ISN, Guiseppe Remuzzi discussed one of the many topics he is working on in the field. The audience was treated to a beautiful presentation of the results from clinical studies using mesenchymal stem cells to counter unfavorable immune responses that occur during kidney transplantation.


September 15, the last day of the symposium was filled with excellent presentations. One of which was presented by STELLAR coordinator Ton Rabelink. He discussed the importance of stem cells in the bone marrow niche with respect to vascular repair in kidney damage and regeneration.

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The STELLAR consortium is looking back on an excellent symposium which was very well organized with world class speakers, fruitful discussions and rewarding interactions.

We would like to thank the organizers Benjamin Humphreys and Paolo Romagnani for putting together such an amazing program.


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