bims-orenst Biomed News
on Organs-on-chips and engineered stem cell models
Issue of 2020‒12‒13
five papers selected by
Joram Mooiweer
University of Groningen

  1. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020 ;8 581163
      Microphysiological systems, also known as organs-on-chips, are microfluidic devices designed to model human physiology in vitro. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is the most widely used material for organs-on-chips due to established microfabrication methods, and properties that make it suitable for biological applications such as low cytotoxicity, optical transparency, gas permeability. However, absorption of small molecules and leaching of uncrosslinked oligomers might hinder the adoption of PDMS-based organs-on-chips for drug discovery assays. Here, we have engineered a modular, PDMS-free microphysiological system that is capable of recapitulating biologic barrier functions commonly demonstrated in PDMS-based devices. Our microphysiological system is comprised of a microfluidic chip to house cell cultures and pneumatic microfluidic pumps to drive flow with programmable pressure and shear stress. The modular architecture and programmable pumps enabled us to model multiple in vivo microenvironments. First, we demonstrate the ability to generate cyclic strain on the culture membrane and establish a model of the alveolar air-liquid interface. Next, we utilized three-dimensional finite element analysis modeling to characterize the fluid dynamics within the device and develop a model of the pressure-driven filtration that occurs at the glomerular filtration barrier. Finally, we demonstrate that our model can be used to recapitulate sphingolipid induced kidney injury. Together, our results demonstrate that a multifunctional and modular microphysiological system can be deployed without the use of PDMS. Further, the bio-inert plastic used in our microfluidic device is amenable to various established, high-throughput manufacturing techniques, such as injection molding. As a result, the development plastic organs-on-chips provides an avenue to meet the increasing demand for organ-on-chip technology.
    Keywords:  glomerulus-on-chip; lung-on-chip; microfluidic; microphysiological system; organ-on-chip
  2. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 08. 10(1): 21475
      Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex multi-factorial disease for which physiologically relevant in vitro models are lacking. Existing models are often a compromise between biological relevance and scalability. Here, we integrated intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) derived from human intestinal organoids with monocyte-derived macrophages, in a gut-on-a-chip platform to model the human intestine and key aspects of IBD. The microfluidic culture of IEC lead to an increased polarization and differentiation state that closely resembled the expression profile of human colon in vivo. Activation of the model resulted in the polarized secretion of CXCL10, IL-8 and CCL-20 by IEC and could efficiently be prevented by TPCA-1 exposure. Importantly, upregulated gene expression by the inflammatory trigger correlated with dysregulated pathways in IBD patients. Finally, integration of activated macrophages offers a first-step towards a multi-factorial amenable IBD platform that could be scaled up to assess compound efficacy at early stages of drug development or in personalized medicine.
  3. Lab Chip. 2020 Dec 11.
      Organoids are widely used as a model system to study gut pathophysiology; however, they fail to fully reproduce the complex, multi-component structure of the intestinal wall. We present here a new gut on chip model that allows the co-culture of primary epithelial and stromal cells. The device has the topography and dimensions of the mouse gut and is based on a 3D collagen I scaffold. The scaffold is coated with a thin layer of laminin to mimic the basement membrane. To maintain the scaffold structure while preserving its cytocompatibility, the collagen scaffold was rigidified by threose-based post-polymerization treatment. This treatment being cytocompatible enabled the incorporation of primary intestinal fibroblasts inside the scaffold, reproducing the gut stromal compartment. We observed that mouse organoids, when deposited into crypts, opened up and epithelialized the scaffold, generating a polarized epithelial monolayer. Proper segregation of dividing and differentiated cells along the crypt-villus axis was achieved under these conditions. Finally, we show that the application of fluid shear stress allows the long-term culture of this intestinal epithelium. Our device represents a new biomimetic tool that captures key features of the gut complexity and could be used to study gut pathophysiology.
  4. Biosens Bioelectron. 2020 Nov 24. pii: S0956-5663(20)30819-8. [Epub ahead of print] 112833
      Cell co-culture serves as a standard method to study intercellular communication. However, random diffusion of signal molecules during co-culture may arouse crosstalk among different types of cells and hide directive signal-target responses. Here, a microfluidic chip is proposed to study unidirectional intercellular communication by spatially controlling the flow of the signal molecules. The chip contains two separated chambers connected by two channels where the culture media flows oppositely. A zigzag signal-blocking channel is designed to study the function of a specific signal. The chip is applied to study the unidirectional communication between tumor cells and stromal cells. It shows that the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (a marker of cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF)) of both MRC-5 fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells can be up-regulated only by the secreta from invasive MDA-MB-231 cells, but not from non-invasive MCF-7 cells. The proliferation of the tumor cells can be improved by the stromal cells. Moreover, transforming growth factor beta 1 is found as one of the main factors for CAF transformation via the signal-blocking function. The chip achieves unidirectional cell communication along X-axis, signal concentration gradient along Y-axis and 3D cell culture along Z-axis, which provides a useful tool for cell communication studies.
    Keywords:  Cancer-associated fibroblasts; Intercellular communications; Mesenchymal stem cells; Microfluidic chips
  5. Toxicology. 2020 Dec 08. pii: S0300-483X(20)30290-0. [Epub ahead of print] 152651
      A human microfluidic four-cell liver acinus microphysiology system (LAMPS), was evaluated for reproducibility and robustness as a model for drug pharmacokinetics and toxicology. The model was constructed using primary human hepatocytes or human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived hepatocytes and 3 human cell lines for the endothelial, Kupffer and stellate cells. The model was tested in two laboratories and demonstrated to be reproducible in terms of basal function of hepatocytes, Terfenadine metabolism, and effects of Tolcapone (88 μM), Troglitazone (150 μM), or caffeine (600 μM) over 9 days in culture. Additional experiments compared basal outputs of albumin, urea, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, as well as drug metabolism and toxicity in the LAMPS model, or 2D cultures seeded with either primary hepatocytes or iPSC-hepatocytes. Further experiments to study the effects of Terfenadine (10 μM), Tolcapone (88 μM), Trovafloxacin (150 μM with or without 1 μg/mL lipopolysaccharide), Troglitazone (28 μM), Rosiglitazone (0.8 μM), Pioglitazone (3 μM), and caffeine (600 μM) were carried out over 10 days. We found that both primary human hepatocytes and iPSC-derived hepatocytes in 3D culture maintained excellent basal liver function and Terfenadine metabolism over 10 days compared the same cells in 2D cultures. In 2D, non-overlay monolayer cultures, both cell types lost hepatocyte phenotypes after 48 hours. With respect to drug effects, both cell types demonstrated comparable and more human-relevant effects in LAMPS, as compared to 2D cultures. Overall, these studies show that LAMPS is a robust and reproducible in vitro liver model, comparable in performance when seeded with either primary human hepatocytes or iPSC-derived hepatocytes, and more physiologically and clinically relevant than 2D monolayer cultures.
    Keywords:  drug toxicity; hepatotoxicity; in vitro