Robust bioengineered 3D functional human intestinal epithelium
September 16, 2015
Intestinal functions are central to human physiology, health and disease. Options to study these functions with direct relevance to the human condition remain severely limited when using conventional cell cultures, microfluidic systems, organoids, animal surrogates or human studies. To replicate in vitro the tissue architecture and microenvironments of native intestine, we developed a 3D porous protein scaffolding system, containing a geometrically-engineered hollow lumen, with adaptability to both large and small intestines. These intestinal tissues demonstrated representative human responses by permitting continuous accumulation of mucous secretions on the epithelial surface, establishing low oxygen tension in the lumen, and interacting with gut-colonizing bacteria. The newly developed 3D intestine model enabled months-long sustained access to these intestinal functions in vitro, readily integrable with a multitude of different organ mimics and will therefore ensure a reliable ex vivo tissue system for studies in a broad context of human intestinal diseases and treatments.