Three-dimensional models for studying development and disease: moving on from organisms to organs-on-a-chip and organoids.
ABSTRACT: Human development and disease are challenging to study because of lack of experimental accessibility to in vivo systems and the complex nature of biological processes. For these reasons researchers turn to the use of model systems, ranging in complexity and scale from single cells to model organisms. While the use of model organisms is valuable for studying physiology and pathophysiology in an in vivo context and for aiding pre-clinical development of therapeutics, animal models are costly, difficult to interrogate, and not always equivalent to human biology. For these reasons, three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures have emerged as an attractive model system that contains key aspects of in vivo tissue and organ complexity while being more experimentally tractable than model organisms. In particular, organ-on-a-chip and organoid models represent orthogonal approaches that have been able to recapitulate characteristics of physiology and disease. Here, we review advances in these two categories of 3D cultures and applications in studying development and disease. Additionally, we discuss development of key technologies that facilitate the generation of 3D cultures, including microfluidics, biomaterials, genome editing, and imaging technologies.
Project description:In order to better understand the brain and brain diseases, in vitro human brain models need to include not only a chemically and physically relevant microenvironment, but also structural network complexity. This complexity reflects the hierarchical architecture in brain tissue. Here, a method has been developed that adds complexity to a 3D cell culture by means of nanogrooved substrates. SH-SY5Y cells were grown on these nanogrooved substrates and covered with Matrigel, a hydrogel. To quantitatively analyze network behavior in 2D neuronal cell cultures, we previously developed an automated image-based screening method. We first investigated if this method was applicable to 3D primary rat brain cortical (CTX) cell cultures. Since the method was successfully applied to these pilot data, a proof of principle in a reductionist human brain cell model was attempted, using the SH-SY5Y cell line. The results showed that these cells also create an aligned network in the 3D microenvironment by maintaining a certain degree of guidance by the nanogrooved topography in the z-direction. These results indicate that nanogrooves enhance the structural complexity of 3D neuronal cell cultures for both CTX and human SH-SY5Y cultures, providing a basis for further development of an easy access brain-on-chip model.
Project description:Adipose tissue dysfunction is critical to the development of type II diabetes and other metabolic diseases. While monolayer cell culture has been useful for studying fat biology, 2D culture often does not reflect the complexity of fat tissue. Animal models are also problematic in that they are expensive, time consuming, and may not completely recapitulate human biology because of species variation. To address these problems, we have developed a scaffold-free method to generate 3D adipose spheroids from primary or immortal human or mouse pre-adipocytes. Pre-adipocytes self-organize into spheroids in hanging drops and upon transfer to low attachment plates, can be maintained in long-term cultures. Upon exposure to differentiation cues, the cells mature into adipocytes, accumulating large lipid droplets that expand with time. The 3D spheroids express and secrete higher levels of adiponectin compared to 2D culture and respond to stress, either culture-related or toxin-associated, by secreting pro-inflammatory adipokines. In addition, 3D spheroids derived from brown adipose tissue (BAT) retain expression of BAT markers better than 2D cultures derived from the same tissue. Thus, this model can be used to study both the maturation of pre-adipocytes or the function of mature adipocytes in a 3D culture environment.
Project description:Influenza A virus (IAV) claims ∼250,000-500,000 lives annually worldwide. Currently, there are a few in vitro models available to study IAV immunopathology. Monolayer cultures of cell lines and primary lung cells (two-dimensional [2D] cell culture) is the most commonly used tool, however, this system does not have the in vivo-like structure of the lung and immune responses to IAV as it lacks the three-dimensional (3D) tissue structure. To recapitulate the lung physiology in vitro, a system that contains multiple cell types within a 3D environment that allows cell movement and interaction would provide a critical tool. In this study, as a first step in designing a 3D-Human Tissue-Engineered Lung Model (3D-HTLM), we describe the 3D culture of primary human small airway epithelial cells (HSAEpCs) and determined the immunophenotype of this system in response to IAV infections. We constructed a 3D chitosan-collagen scaffold and cultured HSAEpCs on these scaffolds at air-liquid interface (ALI). These 3D cultures were compared with 2D-cultured HSAEpCs for viability, morphology, marker protein expression, and cell differentiation. Results showed that the 3D-cultured HSAEpCs at ALI yielded maximum viable cells and morphologically resembled the in vivo lower airway epithelium. There were also significant increases in aquaporin-5 and cytokeratin-14 expression for HSAEpCs cultured in 3D compared to 2D. The 3D culture system was used to study the infection of HSAEpCs with two major IAV strains, H1N1 and H3N2. The HSAEpCs showed distinct changes in marker protein expression, both at mRNA and protein levels, and the release of proinflammatory cytokines. This study is the first step in the development of the 3D-HTLM, which will have wide applicability in studying pulmonary pathophysiology and therapeutics development.
Project description:Treatment following early diagnosis of Prostate cancer (PCa) is increasingly successful, whilst the treatment of advanced and metastatic PCa remains challenging. A major limitation in the development of new therapies is the prediction of drug efficacy using in vitro models. Classic in vitro 2-dimensional (2D) cell monolayer cultures are hypersensitive to anti-cancer drugs. As a result, there has been a surge in the development of platforms that enable three dimensional (3D) cultures thought to better replicate natural physiology and better predict drug efficacy. A deficiency associated with most 3D culture systems is that their complexity reduces the number of replicates and combination therapies that can be feasibly evaluated. Herein, we describe the use of a microwell platform that utilises a nylon mesh to retain 3D micro-tumours in discrete microwells; termed the Microwell-mesh. The Microwell-mesh enables the manufacture of ~150 micro-tumours per well in a 48-well plate, and response to anti-tumour drugs can be readily quantified. Our results demonstrate that 3D micro-tumours, unlike 2D monolayers, are not hypersensitive to Docetaxel or Abiraterone Acetate, providing a superior platform for the evaluation of sequential drug treatment. In summary, the Microwell-mesh provides an efficient 3D micro-tumour platform for single and sequential drug screening.
Project description:Proteins are the workhorses of the cell and execute many of their functions by interacting with other proteins forming protein complexes. Multi-protein complexes are an admixture of subunits, change their interaction partners, and modulate their functions and cellular physiology in response to environmental changes. When two species mate, the hybrid offspring are usually inviable or sterile because of large-scale differences in the genetic makeup between the two parents causing incompatible genetic interactions. Such reciprocal-sign epistasis between inter-specific alleles is not limited to incompatible interactions between just one gene pair; and, usually involves multiple genes. Many of these multi-locus incompatibilities show visible defects, only in the presence of all the interactions, making it hard to characterize. Understanding the dynamics of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) leading to multi-protein complexes is better suited to characterize multi-locus incompatibilities, compared to studying them with traditional approaches of genetics and molecular biology. The advances in omics technologies, which includes genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics can help achieve this end. This is especially relevant when studying non-model organisms. Here, we discuss the recent progress in the understanding of hybrid genetic incompatibility; omics technologies, and how together they have helped in characterizing protein complexes and in turn multi-locus incompatibilities. We also review advances in bioinformatic techniques suitable for this purpose and propose directions for leveraging the knowledge gained from model-organisms to identify genetic incompatibilities in non-model organisms.
Project description:Current strategies for engineering cardiovascular cells and tissues have yielded a variety of sophisticated tools for studying disease mechanisms, for development of drug therapies, and for fabrication of tissue equivalents that may have application in future clinical use. These efforts are motivated by the need to extend traditional 2-dimensional (2D) cell culture systems into 3D to more accurately replicate in vivo cell and tissue function of cardiovascular structures. Developments in microscale devices and bioprinted 3D tissues are beginning to supplant traditional 2D cell cultures and preclinical animal studies that have historically been the standard for drug and tissue development. These new approaches lend themselves to patient-specific diagnostics, therapeutics, and tissue regeneration. The emergence of these technologies also carries technical challenges to be met before traditional cell culture and animal testing become obsolete. Successful development and validation of 3D human tissue constructs will provide powerful new paradigms for more cost effective and timely translation of cardiovascular tissue equivalents.
Project description:The culturing of mini-organs (organoids) in three-dimensions (3D) presents a simple and powerful tool to investigate the principles underlying human organ development and tissue self-organization in both healthy and diseased states. Applications of single molecule analysis are highly informative for a comprehensive understanding of the complexity underlying tissue and organ physiology. To fully exploit the potential of single molecule technologies, the adjustment of protocols and tools to 3D tissue culture is required. Single molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) is a robust technique for visualizing and quantifying individual transcripts. In addition, smFISH can be employed to study splice variants, fusion transcripts as well as transcripts of multiple genes at the same time. Here, we develop a 3-day protocol and validation method to perform smFISH in 3D in whole human organoids. We provide a number of applications to exemplify the diverse possibilities for the simultaneous detection of distinct mRNA transcripts, evaluation of their spatial distribution and the identification of divergent cell lineages in 3D in organoids.
Project description:There is a growing need for fast and accurate methods for testing developmental neurotoxicity across several chemical exposure sources. Current approaches, such as in vivo animal studies, and assays of animal and human primary cell cultures, suffer from challenges related to time, cost, and applicability to human physiology. Prior work has demonstrated success employing machine learning to predict developmental neurotoxicity using gene expression data collected from human 3D tissue models exposed to various compounds. The 3D model is biologically similar to developing neural structures, but its complexity necessitates extensive expertise and effort to employ. By instead focusing solely on constructing an assay of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose that a simpler 2D tissue model may prove sufficient. We thus compare the accuracy of predictive models trained on data from a 2D tissue model with those trained on data from a 3D tissue model, and find the 2D model to be substantially more accurate. Furthermore, we find the 2D model to be more robust under stringent gene set selection, whereas the 3D model suffers substantial accuracy degradation. While both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, we propose that our described 2D approach could be a valuable tool for decision makers when prioritizing neurotoxicity screening.
Project description:Using tissue engineering technologies, we aimed to engineer the ovarian tumor microenvironment to study disease progression by combining biomimetic hydrogels with melt electrospun written scaffolds. 3D co-cultures were constructed by assembling ovarian cancer cell-laden hydrogels with mesothelial cell-layered scaffolds. 3D constructs were characterised by proliferation and transcriptomic analyses and applied to an intraperitoneal xenograft model. Increased cancer cell proliferation upon 3D co-cultures was validated using patient-derived cells and linked to greater tumor burden in vivo. Genome-wide microarray analysis identified IGFBP7, PTGS2, VEGFC and FGF2 as being upregulated in 3D co-cultures compared to 3D mono-cultures. Protein expression of these differentially regulated factors was confirmed by immunohistochemistry in xenograft and patient-derived tumor tissues and correlated with overall and progression-free survival. This pre-clinical cancer model harbors the complexity of the disease seen in patients and advances our understanding of the underlying cell biology and the contribution of the tumor microenvironment to cancer growth. Overall design: The dataset was derived from three biological repeats of each of the sample groups after 14 days in 3D mono- or culture.
Project description:Organoids derived from stem cells or tissues in culture can develop into structures that resemble the in vivo anatomy and physiology of intact organs. Human organoid cultures provide the potential to study human development and model disease processes with the same scrutiny and depth of analysis customary for research with nonhuman model organisms. Resembling the complexity of the actual tissue or organ, patient-derived human organoid studies may accelerate medical research, creating new opportunities for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, generating knowledge and tools for preclinical studies, including drug development and testing. Biologists are drawn to this system as a new "model organism" to study complex disease phenotypes and genetic variability among individuals using patient-derived tissues. The American Society for Cell Biology convened a task force to report on the potential, challenges, and limitations for human organoid research. The task force suggests ways to ease the entry for new researchers into the field and how to facilitate broader use of this new model organism within the research community. This includes guidelines for reproducibility, culturing, sharing of patient materials, patient consent, training, and communication with the public.