Renal endothelial cells (ECs) play crucial roles in vasorelaxation, ultrafiltration, and selective transport of electrolytes and water, but also in leakage of the glomerular filtration barrier and inflammatory processes like complement activation and leukocyte recruitment. In addition, they are target cells for both cellular and antibody-mediated rejection in the transplanted kidney. To study the molecular and cellular processes underlying EC behavior in renal disease, well-characterized primary renal ECs are indispensible. In this report, we describe a straightforward procedure to isolate ECs from the perfusion fluid of human donor kidneys by a combination of negative selection of monocytes/macrophages, positive selection by CD31 Dynabeads, and propagation in endothelium-specific culture medium. Thus, we isolated and propagated renal ECs from 102 donor kidneys, representative of all blood groups and major human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II antigens. The obtained ECs were positive for CD31 and von Willebrand factor, expressed other endothelial markers such as CD34, VEGF receptor-2, TIE2, and plasmalemmal vesicle associated protein-1 to a variable extent, and were negative for the monocyte marker CD14 and lymphatic endothelial marker podoplanin. HLA class II was either constitutively expressed or could be induced by interferon-y. Furthermore, as a proof of principle, we showed the diagnostic value of this renal endothelial biobank in renal endothelium-specific cross-matching tests for HLA antibodies.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We describe a new and widely accessible approach to obtain human primary renal endothelial cells in a \standardized fashion, by isolating from the perfusate of machine-perfused donor kidneys. Characterization of the cells showed a mixed population originating from different compartments of the kidney. As a proof of principle, we demonstrated a possible diagnostic application in an endothelium-specific cross-match. Next to transplantation, we foresee further applications in the field renal endothelial research.