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Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Failure: Comprehensive Overview (2024)

This post aims to explain how mesenchymal stem cells might have the ability to treat kidney disease.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Failure: Comprehensive Overview (2024)

Louis A. Cona, MD
Updated on
Jun 5, 2024

Learn more about stem cell therapy for Kidney Disease. Delve into the latest research from placebo-controlled clinical trials to discover potential treatment strategies.

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Stem cell therapy for kidney disease offers a revolutionary approach to addressing chronic kidney failure.

This innovative treatment has the potential to significantly improve patients' quality of life and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Explore how this cutting-edge therapy is paving the way for new hope and better outcomes for those suffering from end-stage kidney disease.


Stem Cell Kidney Treatment

End-stage kidney disease (ESKD), a severe and final stage of chronic kidney failure, drastically diminishes the quality of life and frequently results in cardiovascular death. Traditional treatment options like dialysis and kidney transplantation, while life-sustaining, come with significant limitations and challenges, including donor shortages, immune rejection, and the burden of lifelong immunosuppression.

Stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising alternative that could potentially transform the treatment landscape for patients suffering from kidney failure. Here’s a closer look at how stem cell therapy can be beneficial:

Mechanisms of Stem Cell Therapy in Kidney Disease

Stem cells, particularly mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), possess unique regenerative capabilities. They can differentiate into various cell types, including renal cells, and have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them ideal candidates for repairing and regenerating damaged kidney tissues.

  1. Regeneration of Kidney Cells: Stem cells can differentiate into renal tubular cells, podocytes, and other kidney-specific cells, aiding in the repair and regeneration of damaged nephrons.
  2. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Stem cells secrete bioactive molecules that reduce inflammation, a significant contributor to the progression of kidney disease.
  3. Immunomodulation: MSCs can modulate the immune system, reducing the risk of immune-mediated kidney damage.
  4. Paracrine Effects: Stem cells release growth factors and cytokines that promote tissue repair and improve kidney function indirectly.

Clinical Applications and Research

Several clinical trials and preclinical studies have demonstrated the potential of stem cell therapy in treating kidney diseases:

  • Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): MSCs have shown promise in improving kidney function and survival rates in AKI models by enhancing tissue repair and reducing inflammation.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Stem cell therapy has been explored to slow the progression of CKD and improve renal function. Studies indicate that MSCs can help in stabilizing renal function and reducing fibrosis.
  • Kidney Transplantation: Incorporating stem cell therapy in kidney transplantation protocols can potentially reduce the incidence of acute rejection and improve long-term graft survival.

Challenges and Future Directions

While stem cell therapy holds significant potential, several challenges remain:

  1. Cell Source and Quality: Identifying the optimal source of stem cells and ensuring their quality and consistency for therapeutic use is crucial.
  2. Delivery Methods: Developing effective and safe methods for delivering stem cells to the kidneys is essential for maximizing therapeutic benefits.
  3. Safety and Efficacy: Long-term safety and efficacy studies are necessary to address potential risks, such as tumorigenicity and unwanted immune responses.
  4. Regulatory and Ethical Issues: Stem cell therapy involves complex regulatory and ethical considerations that need to be addressed to facilitate widespread clinical application.

Kidney Failure Treatment Without Dialysis

Kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), demands effective management strategies. While dialysis is common, there are several alternatives:

  • Kidney Transplantation: Offers a long-term solution but is limited by donor availability and the patient's health status. More about this can be found in a study.
  • Supportive Care without Dialysis: This approach treats symptoms and complications through medications for blood pressure, anemia, electrolyte balance, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications. Further details are available here.
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy: This new treatment may be able to improve organ function to delay or slow disease progression.

Emerging treatments are also under investigation. For example, bardoxolone methyl has shown promise in improving kidney function, as measured by eGFR. However, this drug is currently in clinical trials and not widely available yet. More information can be found in this clinical study.

Treatment choices for kidney failure depend on overall health, disease severity, and personal preferences, making discussions with healthcare providers crucial for understanding each option's benefits and risks.

Causes of Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can be caused by various conditions that pressure the kidneys over time. The two most common causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Other states, such as heart disease, liver disease, and certain urinary tract infections, can also lead to kidney failure.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Symptoms of kidney failure vary in severity, including fatigue, frequent urination, nausea, and shortness of breath, with more severe symptoms like chest pain, seizures, and reduced urine output as the condition worsens. Key aspects include:

  • Markers of Kidney Health: The urine albumin creatinine ratio (UACR) is crucial, with a higher ratio indicating potential urinary tract infections or severe kidney damage.
  • Immune System Disorders: Patients with kidney disease often face immune system disorders, increasing hospitalization risks for heart failure or kidney death.

For treatment, doctors may prescribe SGLT2 inhibitors to help lower blood sugar levels and reduce cardiovascular death risks. However, these medications can have side effects and aren't effective for everyone, highlighting the need for new, more effective kidney disease treatments.


Is there a Cure for Kidney Disease?

Currently, there is no definitive cure for kidney disease. The goal of treatment is primarily to slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms to improve quality of life.

Critical aspects of managing kidney disease include blood pressure control and managing other conditions that can contribute to kidney function decline, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers can lower blood pressure and protect the kidneys.

It's important to note that the primary outcome in managing kidney disease is not just to prolong life, but also to enhance the quality of life for patients. This includes increasing the production of red blood cells to prevent anemia, a common complication in kidney disease that can cause fatigue and weakness.

Research is ongoing to find more effective treatments for kidney disease. For instance, placebo-controlled clinical trials are being conducted to test new medications and therapies. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is also essential to support overall kidney health.

While kidney disease can be managed, it is complex, similar to difficult-to-treat cancers and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. The kidney's intricate network of blood vessels and the multi-functional nature of the organ make it a challenging disease to treat.

Individual patient experiences can vary widely, so it's crucial to have open, ongoing conversations with healthcare providers to understand the best course of action for managing kidney disease.

Traditional Treatments for Kidney Failure

The traditional treatments for kidney failure include dialysis or kidney transplantation.


Dialysis is a treatment that mimics the function of healthy kidneys. It removes waste and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys can no longer do so. However, dialysis is not a cure and can carry risks like infection and blood clots.

Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant involves surgically placing a healthy kidney from a donor into a person with kidney failure. While transplants can offer a better quality of life than dialysis, they also come with risks and the need for life-long medication to prevent rejection of the new kidney.

stem cell therapy for kidney disease

The Emergence of Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is an innovative treatment option that has made waves in the medical world. It shows promise in treating a variety of diseases, including kidney failure.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy involves using stem cells to repair or replace damaged cells and tissues. Stem cells have the unique ability to develop into many different types of cells in the body, including kidney cells. Learn more about different types of stem cells and their functions.

How Can Stem Cells Treat Kidney Disease?

In kidney disease, stem cell therapy aims to reduce inflammation by modulating the immune system, additionally promoting the cells to replace damaged kidney cells with new ones, helping restore the kidney's filtering function.

This innovative approach could offer a potential cure for kidney disease, particularly for those who are not suitable candidates for a kidney transplant.

Stem cell treatment for kidney failure

Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Disease

Mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy (MSC) offers a promising solution for kidney disease, with extensive research supporting its potential in this field. MSCs are multipotent cells that can be sourced from various tissues and, when utilized in therapy for kidney disease, can significantly improve health-related quality of life compared to dialysis. Delivery of MSCs to kidneys can be carried out through various routes, making it a versatile treatment option.

In kidney transplantation for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients, MSC therapy has shown potential for increasing survival rates and improving post-surgical outcomes. A study in which MSCs were infused intravenously along with immunosuppressive drugs in ESRD patients demonstrated its safety and feasibility.

Fundamentally, MSC-based therapy has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of kidney diseases and their related complications. Ongoing research and clinical trials continue to explore the optimal ways to harness the potency and regenerative capabilities of MSCs, thereby paving the way for breakthroughs in improving the lives of patients suffering from kidney disease.

How do Stem Cells Help Kidney Disease?

MSCs are a well-defined and easily accessible cell population with promising therapeutic properties, as demonstrated by numerous experimental models of kidney diseases. These cells act mainly through immunomodulatory and paracrine effects, and various clinical trials have been conducted to understand their safety, feasibility, and efficacy in treating renal pathologies.

However, challenges remain regarding long-term follow-up data and achieving consensus on therapeutic protocols, including MSC preparation, donor criteria, and immunosuppressive treatments for kidney transplant recipients. Further research is needed to determine the optimal approach for harmony in clinical practices. There is potential for enhancing MSCs' innate reparative capabilities through preconditioning or genetic modification, which may open up new avenues in therapeutic fields.

The Efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Failure

Using stem cells to treat kidney failure is still exploratory, but early clinical trial results are promising.

Clinical Trials and Their Findings

Clinical trials have shown that stem cells can regenerate kidney tissue and improve animal kidney function. However, more research is needed to understand how to apply these findings to humans.

Real-World Cases

While large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials are the gold standard for proving the efficacy of a treatment, many individual cases show promising results with stem cell therapy. For instance, there have been reports of patients with kidney disease experiencing improvements after receiving stem cell treatments.


The Future of Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Failure

As we progress, stem cell therapy shows immense potential for treating various conditions, including kidney failure. Here, we will look into the possible future directions of this innovative treatment.

Advancements in Stem Cell Research

Scientific research is ongoing to improve the effectiveness of stem cell therapy for kidney failure. This includes understanding how stem cells can best be harvested, grown, and implanted to benefit kidney disease patients. Recent advancements in genetic medicine and innovative clinical trials pave the way for more effective and safe stem cell treatments.

Overcoming Challenges

While stem cell therapy holds much promise, significant challenges must be overcome. This includes regulatory hurdles, ethical considerations, and ensuring treatments are safe and effective.

As we continue to learn more about stem cells and their potential applications, we can expect to see progress in these areas. Learn more about stem cell therapy regulations and protocols.

How Stem Cell Therapy Could Change Kidney Failure Treatment

If stem cell therapy proves to be a successful treatment for kidney failure, it could revolutionize the field of nephrology.

Reducing the Need for Dialysis and Transplants

One of stem cell therapy's most significant potential benefits is that it could reduce the need for dialysis and kidney transplants. This could significantly improve the quality of life for kidney disease patients.

Meeting Unmet Medical Needs

Kidney failure is a significant health challenge that affects millions of people worldwide. New treatments are needed to slow disease progression and improve patients' quality of life. Stem cell therapy could help meet this unmet medical need.


The Best Places for Stem Cell Treatment

Many places globally offer stem cell treatment, but choosing a reputable clinic is essential. The Cayman Islands is known for its advanced medical facilities and top-notch care, making it a popular choice for stem cell treatment. Discover more about the unique experiences in the Cayman Islands.

Natural Ways to Support Kidney Health

In addition to medical treatments, there are natural ways to support kidney health and potentially slow the progression of kidney disease.

Dietary Changes

Eating a diet low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus can help keep your kidneys healthier for longer. It's also crucial to control blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs, such as astragalus and dandelion, may help improve kidney function. Always consult your doctor before starting any herbal remedies.

Kidney Cleanse Teas

Certain teas, like stinging nettle and hydrangea tea, are believed to cleanse the kidneys and promote kidney health. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.


Stem Cell Kidney Repair

Kidney failure impacts over 660,000 Americans annually, leading to significant mortality and healthcare costs. Key points include:

  • Prevalence and Impact: It leads to around 47,000 deaths yearly, with patients typically requiring costly weekly dialysis, averaging $80,000 per year.
  • Kidney Function and Damage: Healthy kidneys filter waste and fluids, but damage from various conditions can lead to the accumulation of fluids and waste, causing adverse reactions.
  • Regenerative Limitations and Treatments: Although kidneys have some regenerative ability, severe damage often leads to dependency on dialysis and the need for organ transplants.
  • Common Causes: A significant cause of kidney failure is diabetes, accounting for almost half of all cases.

Advances in stem cell science show potential in treating kidney failure, offering hope for more effective and less invasive treatment options.

How do stem cells help kidney disease?

Stem cell therapy is highly anti-inflammatory, reducing levels of chronic inflammation within the body to levels that allow healing to occur when it was otherwise inhibited. In terms of Kidney Disease, the levels of inflammation would be high throughout the body.

By lowering inflammation markers to normal levels, the body can begin to regenerate the tissue required for normal function.


Can stem cells cure kidney disease?

Kidney Disease is challenging to study and correct, as the kidneys are very complicated organs that provide vital filtration functions within the body. Currently, only general systemic stem cell therapy is available to tackle these issues, as scientists have yet to isolate the specific cells responsible for kidney repair. 

A reasonable outcome of a stem cell therapy would be the marked reduction in inflammatory markers when compared to pre-treatment levels and a marginal increase in kidney function. This would likely not be sufficient to remove a patient from dialysis after one therapy, but the hope would be to reduce dialysis frequency. 

Kidney Stem Cell Therapy Cost

The cost of stem cell therapy for kidneys at DVC Stem, as of Jan 1, 2024, is $27,500 USD. This pricing includes the administration of 300 million Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells (UC-MSCs).

The therapy adheres to cGMP quality standards, ensuring the viability and authenticity of the stem cells. Additionally, these stem cells are characterized and US manufactured, adhering to AATB certified cord tissue standards.

The cost encompasses a comprehensive package, including concierge onboarding and personalized follow-up. However, it's important to note that travel and accommodation costs for the Cayman Islands, where the treatment is administered, are not included in this price.



The path from kidney biopsy to renal failure involves a steady decline in kidney function. Treatment traditionally includes antihypertensive drugs, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers. When kidney function worsens, dialysis often becomes necessary. Cardiovascular health is a major concern in renal failure, with increased risks of cardiovascular mortality and exacerbation of other conditions like Alzheimer's.

Stem cell therapy presents a promising alternative, showing significant improvements in renal function in clinical trials, including increased eGFR. It also potentially lowers blood pressure, improves glycemic control, and boosts red blood cell production, beneficial for anemia or diabetes patients.

Beyond kidney health, stem cell therapy may also aid in treating a range of conditions, from cancer to respiratory issues and obesity. However, its effectiveness varies among individuals, and it's not a universal solution.

Looking forward, stem cell therapy holds promise in improving the quality of life for kidney failure patients, signaling a new era in medical science. As we approach another kidney week, the future of stem cell therapy shines brightly, offering new understanding and treatment avenues for kidney

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Kidney Regenerate?

The kidney has a limited ability to regenerate, which varies by cell type and injury extent. Here are the key points:

  • Glomerular Regeneration: Previously thought impossible, research now shows the glomerulus can heal under certain conditions, though podocyte regeneration remains challenging due to their complex structure. The discovery of renal progenitor cells (RPCs) that can develop into podocytes offers new hope for glomerular repair, though it's hindered by conditions like proteinuria.
  • Tubular Regeneration: The tubules of the kidney, crucial for reabsorbing substances, can regenerate quickly after injury. This process involves surviving cells undergoing dedifferentiation and replenishment of the tubular epithelium, possibly aided by various types of stem cells.

This regeneration is a complex process regulated by multiple factors, requiring further research to fully understand and potentially enhance its capacity.

Can Stage 5 Kidney Disease Be Reversed?

Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD), or end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), marks the final phase of CKD, where kidney function is severely diminished. Treatment typically requires dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival. Key points include:

  • Management of Complications: Certain symptoms and complications can be managed or reversed. For instance, parathyroidectomy may improve heart rate variability, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in stage 5 CKD patients, as found in a study. High volume hemodiafiltration, a dialysis type, could also reduce cardiovascular mortality, suggested by another study.
  • Irreversible Damage: Vascular damage or calcification in stage 5 CKD patients is currently irreversible. The use of oral anticoagulants in these patients is limited due to the lack of extensive studies, as indicated here.

While some symptoms and complications of stage 5 CKD can be managed, reversing the disease is not possible. Dialysis or kidney transplantation remain the primary treatments.

Can Kidneys Regenerate After Dialysis?

Kidneys can regenerate after acute renal injury, but chronic renal disease, leading to dialysis, is generally irreversible. Key points include:

  • Dialysis Function: Dialysis replaces some kidney functions like waste removal but doesn't cure or reverse kidney damage.
  • Stem Cell Research: There's ongoing research on using stem cells to halt CKD progression to ESRD, aiming to rejuvenate kidney cells. This is still experimental and not standard treatment, as detailed here.

For ESRD patients, the main treatments are dialysis or transplantation. With limited organ availability, research is exploring alternatives like artificial kidneys, though these are not yet widely available.

hile kidneys can regenerate from acute injuries, chronic kidney disease, especially at stages requiring dialysis, is typically irreversible. Current treatments manage the disease, and new therapies like stem cell treatment and artificial kidneys are under research.

Does Stem Cell Therapy for Chronic Kidney Disease Work?

Stem cell therapy for ckd, particularly with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), is a promising potential treatment for chronic kidney disease (CKD), showing ability to improve kidney function. However, challenges like stress on MSCs can hinder their effectiveness, with studies suggesting that medications like pioglitazone might protect MSCs and enhance therapy outcomes.

While stem cell treatments for CKD-related conditions like diabetic nephropathy are being explored, their exact mechanisms, effectiveness, and safety require more research and consideration of individual patient factors.

Can stem cell therapy cure kidney failure?

The use of stem cells to treat kidney failure is still experimental, but early clinical trial results are promising.

What is the most effective treatment for kidney failure?

The most effective treatments for kidney failure are dialysis and kidney transplants. However, stem cell therapy could offer a new, potentially more effective treatment option.

Can you regain kidney function after kidney failure?

It depends on the extent of the damage. Sometimes, lifestyle changes and medication can help restore kidney function. Stem cell therapy could potentially help regenerate kidney tissue and improve kidney function.

Can Stage 4 kidney damage be reversed?

Stage 4 kidney disease is severe and usually cannot be completely reversed. However, treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms.

Can kidney function improve without dialysis?

Yes, in some cases, kidney function can improve with medication and lifestyle changes. However, in severe cases, dialysis may be necessary to help the kidneys filter waste from the body.


(1) Peired, A. J., Sisti, A., & Romagnani, P. (2016). Mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy for kidney disease: A review of clinical evidence. Stem Cells International, 2016, Article ID 4798639.

(2) Chung BH. Use of mesenchymal stem cells for chronic kidney disease. Kidney Res Clin Pract. 2019 Jun 30;38(2):131-134. doi: 10.23876/j.krcp.19.051. PMID: 31189218; PMCID: PMC6577207.

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