bims-orenst Biomed News
on Organs-on-chips and engineered stem cell models
Issue of 2021‒03‒14
eleven papers selected by
Joram Mooiweer
University of Groningen

  1. Small. 2021 Mar 09. e2007425
      Despite considerable efforts in modeling liver disease in vitro, it remains difficult to recapitulate the pathogenesis of the advanced phases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) with inflammation and fibrosis. Here, a liver-on-a-chip platform with bioengineered multicellular liver microtissues is developed, composed of four major types of liver cells (hepatocytes, endothelial cells, Kupffer cells, and stellate cells) to implement a human hepatic fibrosis model driven by NAFLD: i) lipid accumulation in hepatocytes (steatosis), ii) neovascularization by endothelial cells, iii) inflammation by activated Kupffer cells (steatohepatitis), and iv) extracellular matrix deposition by activated stellate cells (fibrosis). In this model, the presence of stellate cells in the liver-on-a-chip model with fat supplementation showed elevated inflammatory responses and fibrosis marker up-regulation. Compared to transforming growth factor-beta-induced hepatic fibrosis models, this model includes the native pathological and chronological steps of NAFLD which shows i) higher fibrotic phenotypes, ii) increased expression of fibrosis markers, and iii) efficient drug transport and metabolism. Taken together, the proposed platform will enable a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying fibrosis progression in NAFLD as well as the identification of new drugs for the different stages of NAFLD.
    Keywords:  co-culture; liver fibrosis; liver microtissues; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  2. Adv Funct Mater. 2020 Nov 25. pii: 2000545. [Epub ahead of print]30(48):
      Tumor progression relies heavily on the interaction between the neoplastic epithelial cells and their surrounding stromal partners. This cell cross-talk affects stromal development, and ultimately the heterogeneity impacts drug efflux and efficacy. To mimic this evolving paradigm, we have micro-engineered a three-dimensional (3D) vascularized pancreatic adenocarcinoma tissue in a tri-culture system composed of patient derived pancreatic organoids, primary human fibroblasts and endothelial cells on a perfusable InVADE platform situated in a 96-well plate. Uniquely, through synergistic engineering we combined the benefits of cellular fidelity of patient tumor derived organoids with the addressability of a plastic organ-on-a-chip platform. Validation of this platform included demonstrating the growth of pancreatic tumor organoids by monitoring the change in metabolic activity of the tissue. Investigation of tumor microenvironmental behavior highlighted the role of fibroblasts in symbiosis with patient organoid cells, resulting in a six-fold increase of collagen deposition and a corresponding increase in tissue stiffness in comparison to fibroblast free controls. The value of a perfusable vascular network was evident in drug screening, as perfusion of gemcitabine into a stiffened matrix did not show the dose-dependent effects on tumor viability as those under static conditions. These findings demonstrate the importance of studying the dynamic synergistic relationship between patient cells with stromal fibroblasts, in a 3D perfused vascular network, to accurately understand and recapitulate the tumor microenvironment.
    Keywords:  Desmoplasia; Tumor Microenvironment; Tumor Organoids; Vascularized
  3. Talanta. 2021 May 01. pii: S0039-9140(21)00018-7. [Epub ahead of print]226 122097
      Standard two/three dimensional (2D/3D)-cell culture platforms have facilitated the understanding of the communications between various cell types and their microenvironments. However, they are still limited in recapitulating the complex functionalities in vivo, such as tissue formation, tissue-tissue interface, and mechanical/biochemical microenvironments of tissues and organs. Intestine-on-a-chip platforms offer a new way to mimic intestinal behaviors and functionalities by constructing in vitro intestinal models in microfluidic devices. This review summarizes the advances and limitations of the state-of-the-art 2D/3D-cell culture platforms, animal models, intestine chips, and the combined multi-organ chips related with intestines. Their applications to studying intestinal functions, drug testing, and disease modeling are introduced. Different intestinal cell sources are compared in terms of gene expression abilities and the recapitulated intestinal morphologies. Among these cells, cells isolated form human intestinal tissues and derived from pluripotent stem cells appear to be more suitable for in vitro reconstruction of intestinal organs. Key challenges of current intestine-on-a-chip platforms and future directions are also discussed.
    Keywords:  In vitro intestinal models; Intestine-on-a-chip; Multiple organs-on-a-chip; Two/three dimensional (2D/3D)-cell culture platform
  4. Adv Funct Mater. 2020 Nov 25. pii: 2002444. [Epub ahead of print]30(48):
      Drug discovery and efficacy in cancer treatments are limited by the inability of pre-clinical models to predict successful outcomes in humans. Limitations remain partly due to their lack of a physiologic tumor microenvironment (TME), which plays a considerable role in drug delivery and tumor response to therapy. Chemotherapeutics and immunotherapies rely on transport through the vasculature, via the smallest capillaries and stroma to the tumor, where passive and active transport processes are at play. Here, a 3D vascularized tumor on-chip is used to examine drug delivery in a relevant TME within a large bed of perfusable vasculature. This system demonstrates highly localized pathophysiological effects of two tumor spheroids (Skov3 and A549) which cause significant changes in vessel density and barrier function. Paclitaxel (Taxol) uptake is examined through diffusivity measurements, functional efflux assays and accumulation of the fluorescent-conjugated drug within the TME. Due to vascular and stromal contributions, differences in the response of vascularized tumors to Taxol (shrinkage and CD44 expression) are apparent compared with simpler models. This model specifically allows for examination of spatially resolved tumor-associated endothelial dysfunction, likely improving the representation of in vivo drug distribution, and has potential for development into a more predictable model of drug delivery.
    Keywords:  P-gp; drug transport; engineered vessels; multi-drug resistance; vascularized tumor
  5. Adv Healthc Mater. 2021 Mar 10. e2001746
      Tubular biological structures consisting of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and cells are basic functional units of all organs in animals and humans. ECM protein solutions at low concentrations (5-10 milligrams per milliliter) are abundantly used in 3D cell culture. However, their poor "printability" and minute-long gelation time have made the direct extrusion of tubular structures in bioprinting applications challenging. Here, this limitation is overcome and the continuous, template-free conversion of low-concentration collagen, elastin, and fibrinogen solutions into tubular structures of tailored size and radial, circumferential and axial organization is demonstrated. The approach is enabled by a microfabricated printhead for the consistent circumferential distribution of ECM protein solutions and lends itself to scalable manufacture. The attached confinement accommodates minute-long residence times for pH, temperature, light, ionic and enzymatic gelation. Chip hosted ECM tubular structures are amenable to perfusion with aqueous solutions and air, and cyclic stretching. Predictive collapse and reopening in a crossed-tube configuration promote all-ECM valves and pumps. Tissue level function is demonstrated by factors secreted from cells embedded within the tube wall, as well as endothelial or epithelial barriers lining the lumen. The described approaches are anticipated to find applications in ECM-based organ-on-chip and biohybrid structures, hydraulic actuators, and soft machines.
    Keywords:  barrier tissues; bioprinting; collagen; microfluidics; tubular structures
  6. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 08. 11(1): 5437
      Examining intestine-liver interactions is important for achieving the desired physiological drug absorption and metabolism response in in vitro drug tests. Multi-organ microphysiological systems (MPSs) constitute promising tools for evaluating inter-organ interactions in vitro. For coculture on MPSs, normal cells are challenging to use because they require complex maintenance and careful handling. Herein, we demonstrated the potential of coculturing normal cells on MPSs in the evaluation of intestine-liver interactions. To this end, we cocultured human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived intestinal cells and fresh human hepatocytes which were isolated from PXB mice with medium circulation in a pneumatic-pressure-driven MPS with pipette-friendly liquid-handling options. The cytochrome activity, albumin production, and liver-specific gene expressions in human hepatocytes freshly isolated from a PXB mouse were significantly upregulated via coculture with hiPS-intestinal cells. Our normal cell coculture shows the effects of the interactions between the intestine and liver that may occur in vivo. This study is the first to demonstrate the coculturing of hiPS-intestinal cells and fresh human hepatocytes on an MPS for examining pure inter-organ interactions. Normal-cell coculture using the multi-organ MPS could be pursued to explore unknown physiological mechanisms of inter-organ interactions in vitro and investigate the physiological response of new drugs.
  7. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 10. 11(1): 5535
      Lung cancer rates are rising globally and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has a five year survival rate of only 24%. Unfortunately, the development of drugs to treat cancer is severely hampered by the inefficiency of translating pre-clinical studies into clinical benefit. Thus, we sought to apply a tumor microenvironment system (TMES) to NSCLC. Using microvascular endothelial cells, lung cancer derived fibroblasts, and NSCLC tumor cells in the presence of in vivo tumor-derived hemodynamic flow and transport, we demonstrate that the TMES generates an in-vivo like biological state and predicts drug response to EGFR inhibitors. Transcriptomic and proteomic profiling indicate that the TMES recapitulates the in vivo and patient molecular biological state providing a mechanistic rationale for the predictive nature of the TMES. This work further validates the TMES for modeling patient tumor biology and drug response indicating utility of the TMES as a predictive tool for drug discovery and development and potential for use as a system for patient avatars.
  8. FASEB J. 2021 Apr;35(4): e21463
      Damage to the cervical epithelial layer due to infection and inflammation is associated with preterm birth. However, the individual and/or collective roles of cervical epithelial layers in maintaining cervical integrity remain unclear during infection/inflammation. To determine the intercellular interactions, we developed an organ-on-chip of the cervical epithelial layer (CE-OOC) composed of two co-culture chambers connected by microchannels, recapitulating the ectocervical and endocervical epithelial layers. Further, we tested the interactions between cells from each distinct region and their contributions in maintaining cervical integrity in response to LPS and TNFα stimulations. The co-culture of ectocervical and endocervical cells facilitated cellular migration of both epithelial cells inside the microchannels. Compared to untreated controls, both LPS and TNFα increased apoptosis, necrosis, and senescence as well as increased pro-inflammatory cytokine productions by cervical epithelial cells. In summary, the CE-OOC established an in vitro model that can recapitulate the ectocervical and the endocervical epithelial regions of the cervix. The established CE-OOC may become a powerful tool in obstetrics and gynecology research such as in studying cervical remodeling during pregnancy and parturition and the dynamics of cervical epithelial cells in benign and malignant pathology in the cervix.
    Keywords:  cervical ripening; cervix; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; organ-on-a-chip; pregnancy; preterm birth
  9. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 11. 11(1): 5654
      We hypothesized that an appropriate ratio of cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and extracellular matrix (ECM) factors would be required for the development of three-dimensional cardiac tissues (3D-CTs) as drug screening systems. To verify this hypothesis, ECM-coated human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs), ECM-coated cardiac fibroblasts (CFs), and uncoated cardiac endothelial cells (CEs) were mixed in the following ratios: 10:0:0 (10CT), 7:2:1 (7CT), 5:4:1 (5CT), and 2:7:1 (2CT). The expression of cardiac-, fibroblasts-, and endothelial-specific markers was assessed by FACS, qPCR, and immunostaining while that of ECM-, cell adhesion-, and ion channel-related genes was examined by qPCR. Finally, the contractile properties of the tissues were evaluated in the absence or presence of E-4031 and isoproterenol. The expression of ECM- and adhesion-related genes significantly increased, while that of ion channel-related genes significantly decreased with the CF proportion. Notably, 7CT showed the greatest contractility of all 3D-CTs. When exposed to E-4031 (hERG K channel blocker), 7CT and 5CT showed significantly decreased contractility and increased QT prolongation. Moreover, 10CT and 7CT exhibited a stronger response to isoproterenol than did the other 3D-CTs. Finally, 7CT showed the highest drug sensitivity among all 3D-CTs. In conclusion, 3D-CTs with an appropriate amount of fibroblasts/endothelial cells (7CT in this study) are suitable drug screening systems, e.g. for the detection of drug-induced arrhythmia.
  10. Talanta. 2021 May 01. pii: S0039-9140(21)00022-9. [Epub ahead of print]226 122101
      Temperature changes in cells are generally accompanied by physiological processes. Cellular temperature measurements can provide important information to fully understand cellular mechanisms. However, temperature measurements with conventional methods, such as fluorescent polymeric thermometers and thermocouples, have limitations of low sensitivity or cell state disturbance. We developed a microfluidic chip integrating a high-precision platinum (Pt) thermo-sensor that can culture cells and monitor the cellular temperature in situ. During detection, a constant temperature system with a stability of 0.015 °C was applied. The temperature coefficient of resistance of the Pt thermo-sensor was 2090 ppm/°C, giving a temperature resolution of the sensor of less than 0.008 °C. This microchip showed a good linear correlation between the temperature and resistance of the Pt sensor at 20-40 °C (R2 = 0.999). Lung and liver cancer cells on the microchip grew normally and continuously. The maximum temperature fluctuation of H1975 (0.924 °C) was larger than that of HepG2 (0.250 °C). However, the temperature of adherent HepG2 cells changed over time, showing susceptibility to the environment most of the time compared to H1975. Moreover, the temperature increment of non-cancerous cells, such as hepatic stellate cells, was monitored in response to the stimulus of paraformaldehyde, showing the process of cell death. Therefore, this thermometric microchip integrated with cell culture could be a non-disposable and label-free tool for monitoring cellular temperature applied to the study of physiology and pathology.
    Keywords:  Cellular temperature; Microfluidic chip; Pt thermo-sensor; Real-time; Tumour cell monitoring
  11. Endocrinology. 2021 Mar 10. pii: bqab054. [Epub ahead of print]
      The molecular interactions between the maternal environment and the developing embryo that are key for early pregnancy success and are influenced by factors such as maternal metabolic status. Our understanding of the mechanism(s) through which these individual nutritional stressors alter endometrial function and the in utero environment for early pregnancy success is, however, limited. Here we report, for the first time, the use of an endometrium-on-a-chip microfluidics approach to produce a multi-cellular endometrium in vitro. Isolated endometrial cells (epithelial and stromal) from the uteri of non-pregnant cows in the early-luteal phase (Day 4-7), were seeded in the upper chamber of the device (epithelial cells; 4-6 10 4 cells/mL) and stromal cells seeded in the lower chamber (1.5-2 10 4 cells/mL). Exposure of cells to different concentrations of glucose (0.5, 5.0 or 50 mM) or insulin (Vehicle, 1 or 10 ng/mL) were performed at a flow rate of 1µL/min for 72 hr. Quantitative differences in the cellular transcriptome and the secreted proteome of in vitro-derived uterine luminal fluid (ULF) were determined by RNA-sequencing and Tandem Mass Tagging Mass Spectrometry (TMT-MS), respectively. High glucose concentrations altered 21 and 191 protein-coding genes in epithelial and stromal cells, respectively (p<0.05), with a dose-dependent quantitative change in the protein secretome (1 and 23 proteins). Altering insulin concentrations resulted in limited transcriptional changes including transcripts for insulin-like binding proteins that were cell specific but altered the quantitative secretion of 196 proteins. These findings highlight one potential mechanism by which changes to maternal glucose and insulin alter uterine function.
    Keywords:  Endometrium-on-a-chip; bovine; cattle; microfluidics; uterine luminal fluid; uterus