Archive for the ‘Tissue Engineering’ Category

3D Print Shape-Shifting Smart Gel

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Hydrogel scaffolds that mimic the native extracellular matrix (ECM) environment play a crucial role in tissue engineering and they are ubiquitously in our lives, including in contact lenses, diapers and the human body.

Researchers at Rutgers have invented a printing method for a smart gel that can be used to create materials for transporting small molecules like drugs to human organs. The approach includes printing a 3D object with a hydrogel that changes shape over time when temperature changes. The potential of the smart hydrogels could be to create a new are of soft robotics and enable new applications in flexible sensors and actuators, biomedical devices and platforms or scaffolds for cells to grow.

Rutgers engineers operated with a hydrogel that has been in use for decades in devices that generate motion and biomedical applications such as scaffolds for cells to grow on. The engineers learned how to precisely control hydrogel growth and shrinkage. In temperatures below 32 degrees Celsius, the hydrogel absorbs more water and swells in size. When temperatures exceed 32 degrees Celsius, the hydrogel begins to expel water and shrinks, the study showed.

According to the Rutgers engineers, the objects they can produce with the hydrogel range from the width of a human hair to several millimeters long. The engineers also showed that they can grow one area of a 3D-printed object by changing temperatures.



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New Liver Tissue Implants Showing Potential

Reporter: Irina Robu,PhD

To develop new tissues, researchers at the Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh have found that stem cells transformed into 3-D liver tissue can support liver function when implanted into the mice suffering with a liver disease.

The scientists stimulated human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to mature pluripotent stem cells into liver cells, hepatocytes. Hepatocytes are the chief functional cells of the liver and perform an astonishing number of metabolic, endocrine and secretory functions. Hepatocytes are exceptionally active in synthesis of protein and lipids for export. The cells are grown in 3-D conditions as small spheres for over a year. However, keeping the stem cells as liver cells for a long time is very difficult, because the viability of hepatocytes decreases in-vitro conditions.

Succeeding the discovery, the team up with materials chemists and engineers to detect appropriate polymers that have already been approved for human use that can be developed into 3-D scaffolds. The best material to use a biodegradable polyester, called polycaprolactone (PCL).PCL is degraded by hydrolysis of its ester linkages in physiological conditions (such as in the human body) and it is especially interesting for the preparation of long term implantable devices, owing to its degradation which is even slower than that of polylactide. They spun the PCL into microscopic fibers that formed a scaffold one centimeter square and a few millimeters thick.

At the same time, hepatocytes derived from embryonic cells had been grown in culture for 20 days and were then loaded onto the scaffolds and implanted under the skin of mice.Blood vessels successfully grew on the scaffolds with the mice having human liver proteins in their blood, demonstrating that the tissue had successfully integrated with the circulatory system. The scaffolds were not rejected by the animals’ immune systems.

The scientists tested the liver tissue scaffolds in mice with tyrosinaemia,a potentially fatal genetic disorder where the enzymes in the liver that break down the amino acid tyrosine are defective, resulting in the accumulation of toxic metabolic products. The implanted liver tissue aided the mice with tyrosinaemia to break down tyrosine and the mice finally lost less weight, had less buildup of toxins in the blood and exhibited fewer signs of liver damage than the control group that received empty scaffolds.

According to Rob Buckle, PhD, Chief Science Officer at the MRC, “Showing that such stem cell-derived tissue is able to reproduce aspects of liver function in the lab also offers real potential to improve the testing of new drugs where more accurate models of human tissue are needed”. It is believed that the discovery could be the next step towards harnessing stem cell reprogramming technologies to provide renewable supplies of liver tissue products for transplantation.




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3-D Printed Ovaries Produce Healthy Offspring

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD


Each year about 120,000 organs are transplanted from one human being to another and most of the time is a living volunteer. But lack of suitable donors, predominantly means the supply of such organs is inadequate. Countless people consequently die waiting for a transplant which has led researchers to study the question of how to build organs from scratch.

One promising approach is to print them, but “bioprinting” remains largely experimental. Nevertheless, bioprinted tissue is before now being sold for drug testing, and the first transplantable tissues are anticipated to be ready for use in a few years’ time. The first 3D printed organ includes bioprosthetic ovaries which are constructed of 3D printed scaffolds that have immature eggs and have been successful in boosting hormone production and restoring fertility was developed by Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Feinberg School of Medicine, at Northwestern University, in Illinois.

What sets apart these bioprosthetic ovaries is the architecture of the scaffold. The material is made of gelatin made from broken-down collagen that is safe to humans which is self-supporting and can lead to building multiple layers.

The 3-D printed “scaffold” or “skeleton” is implanted into a female and its pores can be used to optimize how follicles, or immature eggs, get wedged within the scaffold. The scaffold supports the survival of the mouse’s immature egg cells and the cells that produce hormones to boost production. The open construction permits room for the egg cells to mature and ovulate, blood vessels to form within the implant enabling the hormones to circulate and trigger lactation after giving birth. The purpose of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function.
The scientists’ only objective for developing the bioprosthetic ovaries was to help reestablish fertility and hormone production in women who have suffered adult cancer treatments and now have bigger risks of infertility and hormone-based developmental issues.



Printed human body parts could soon be available for transplant


3D printed ovaries produce healthy offspring giving hope to infertile women



Brave new world: 3D-printed ovaries produce healthy offspring



3-D-printed scaffolds restore ovary function in infertile mice



Our Grandkids May Be Born From 3D-Printed Ovaries



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Fibrin-coated Electrospun Polylactide Nanofibers Potential Applications in Skin Tissue Engineering

Reported by: Irina Robu, PhD


Fibrin plays an essential role during wound healing and skin regeneration and is often applied for the treatment of skin injuries. Fibrin is formed after thrombin cleavage of fibrinopeptide A from fibrinogen Aalpha-chains, thus initiating fibrin polymerization. Double-stranded fibrils form through end-to-middle domain (D:E) associations, and concomitant lateral fibril associations and branching create a clot network. In addition, its primary role is to provide scaffolding for the intravascular thrombus.

Dr. Lucie Bacakova and her colleagues from Department of Biomaterials and Tissue engineering at Czech Academy of Sciences prepared electrospun nanofibrious membranes made from poly(L-lactide) modified with a thin fibrin nanocoating. The cell-free fibrin nanocating remained stable in cell culture medium for 14 days and did not change its morphology. The rate of fibrin degradation is correlated to the degree of cell proliferation on membrane populated with human dermal fibroblasts. It was shown that the cell spreading, mitochondrial activity and cell population density were higher on membranes coated with fibrin than on nonmodified membranes. The cell performance was improved by adding ascorbic acid in the cell culture medium. At the same time, fibrin stimulated the expression and synthesis of collagen I in human dermal fibroblasts. The expression of beta-integrins was improved by fibrin. And it is shown that the combination of nanofibrous membranes with a fibrin nanocoating and ascorbic acids is beneficial to tissue engineering.






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3-D Printed Liver

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP



3D-printing a new lifelike liver tissue for drug screening

Could let pharmaceutical companies quickly do pilot studies on new drugs
February 15, 2016    http://www.kurzweilai.net/3d-printing-a-new-lifelike-liver-tissue-for-drug-screening

Images of the 3D-printed parts of the biomimetic liver tissue: liver cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (left), endothelial and mesenchymal supporing cells (center), and the resulting organized combination of multiple cell types (right). (credit: Chen Laboratory, UC San Diego)


University of California, San Diego researchers have 3D-printed a tissue that closely mimics the human liver’s sophisticated structure and function. The new model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling and could help pharmaceutical companies save time and money when developing new drugs, according to the researchers.

The liver plays a critical role in how the body metabolizes drugs and produces key proteins, so liver models are increasingly being developed in the lab as platforms for drug screening. However, so far, the models lack both the complex micro-architecture and diverse cell makeup of a real liver. For example, the liver receives a dual blood supply with different pressures and chemical constituents.

So the team employed a novel bioprinting technology that can rapidly produce complex 3D microstructures that mimic the sophisticated features found in biological tissues.

The liver tissue was printed in two steps.

  • The team printed a honeycomb pattern of 900-micrometer-sized hexagons, each containing liver cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. An advantage of human induced pluripotent stem cells is that they are patient-specific, which makes them ideal materials for building patient-specific drug screening platforms. And since these cells are derived from a patient’s own skin cells, researchers don’t need to extract any cells from the liver to build liver tissue.
  • Then, endothelial and mesenchymal supporting cells were printed in the spaces between the stem-cell-containing hexagons.

The entire structure — a 3 × 3 millimeter square, 200 micrometers thick — takes just seconds to print. The researchers say this is a vast improvement over other methods to print liver models, which typically take hours. Their printed model was able to maintain essential functions over a longer time period than other liver models. It also expressed a relatively higher level of a key enzyme that’s considered to be involved in metabolizing many of the drugs administered to patients.

“It typically takes about 12 years and $1.8 billion to produce one FDA-approved drug,” said Shaochen Chen, NanoEngineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “That’s because over 90 percent of drugs don’t pass animal tests or human clinical trials. We’ve made a tool that pharmaceutical companies could use to do pilot studies on their new drugs, and they won’t have to wait until animal or human trials to test a drug’s safety and efficacy on patients. This would let them focus on the most promising drug candidates earlier on in the process.”

The work was published the week of Feb. 8 in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Abstract of Deterministically patterned biomimetic human iPSC-derived hepatic model via rapid 3D bioprinting

The functional maturation and preservation of hepatic cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are essential to personalized in vitro drug screening and disease study. Major liver functions are tightly linked to the 3D assembly of hepatocytes, with the supporting cell types from both endodermal and mesodermal origins in a hexagonal lobule unit. Although there are many reports on functional 2D cell differentiation, few studies have demonstrated the in vitro maturation of hiPSC-derived hepatic progenitor cells (hiPSC-HPCs) in a 3D environment that depicts the physiologically relevant cell combination and microarchitecture. The application of rapid, digital 3D bioprinting to tissue engineering has allowed 3D patterning of multiple cell types in a predefined biomimetic manner. Here we present a 3D hydrogel-based triculture model that embeds hiPSC-HPCs with human umbilical vein endothelial cells and adipose-derived stem cells in a microscale hexagonal architecture. In comparison with 2D monolayer culture and a 3D HPC-only model, our 3D triculture model shows both phenotypic and functional enhancements in the hiPSC-HPCs over weeks of in vitro culture. Specifically, we find improved morphological organization, higher liver-specific gene expression levels, increased metabolic product secretion, and enhanced cytochrome P450 induction. The application of bioprinting technology in tissue engineering enables the development of a 3D biomimetic liver model that recapitulates the native liver module architecture and could be used for various applications such as early drug screening and disease modeling.


I wonder how equivalent are these hepatic cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) compared with the real hepatic cell populations.
All cells in our organism share the same DNA info, but every tissue is special for what genes are expressed and also because of the specific localization in our body (which would mean different surrounding environment for each tissue). I am not sure about how much of a step forward this is. Induced hepatic cells are known, but this 3-D print does not have liver shape or the different cell sub-types you would find in the liver.

I agree with your observation that having the same DNA information doesn’t account for variability of cell function within an organ. The regulation of expression is in RNA translation, and that is subject to regulatory factors related to noncoding RNAs and to structural factors in protein folding. The result is that chronic diseases that are affected by the synthetic capabilities of the liver are still problematic – toxicology, diabetes, and the inflammatory response, and amino acid metabolism as well. Nevertheless, this is a very significant step for the testing of pharmaceuticals. When we look at the double circulation of the liver, hypoxia is less of an issue than for heart or skeletal muscle, or mesothelial tissues. I call your attention to the outstanding work by Nathan O. Kaplan on the transhydrogenases, and his stipulation that there are significant differences between organs that are anabolic and those that are catabolic in TPNH/DPNH, that has been ignored for over 40 years. Nothing is quite as simple as we would like.

Fernando commented on 3-D printed liver

3-D printed liver Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator LPBI 3D-printing a new lifelike liver tissue for drug …

I wonder how equivalent are these hepatic cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) compared with the real hepatic cell populations.
All cells in our organism share the same DNA info, but every tissue is special for what genes are expressed and also because of the specific localization in our body (which would mean different surrounding environment for each tissue). I am not sure about how much of a step forward this is. Induced hepatic cells are known, but this 3-D print does not have liver shape or the different cell sub-types you would find in the liver.


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New Scaffold-Free 3D Bioprinting Method Available to Researchers

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD


UPDATED ON 2/6/2016



Bio 3D Printer Regenova with Kenzan method



Cyfuse and Cyberdyne Are Pushing the Boundaries of 3D Printed Human Engineering With Regenova

by TE Halterman | Mar 3, 2015 | 3D Printers3D PrintingHealth 3D Printing |






New scaffold-free 3-D bioprinting method available for first time in North America

Cell Applications primary cells and Regenova 3D Bio Printer from Cyfuse Biomedical combine to print robust 3-D tissue without introduction of extraneous scaffolding material



Regenova, Bio 3D Printer by Cyfuse


Cyfuse Biomedical K.K. and Cell Applications.Inc. publicized on February 3, 2016 that advanced tissue engineering services using 3D bioprinting approach will be available in North America. The services involved using Cyfuse Biomedica’s Regenova 3D Bio Printer, a state of the art robotic system that produces 3D tissues from cell and Cell Applications has created a pay by service bio-printing model that produces scaffold-free tissue available immediately to scientists in the U.S. and Canada for research use.

According to James Yu, Founder and CEO of Cell Applications having the Regenova 3D Bio Printer at our San Diego headquarters offers researchers an end-to-end, customized solution for creating scaffold-free, 3D-engineered tissues that diminish costs by reducing the lengthy processes typical in pharmaceutical drug discovery. In addition , Koji Kuchiishi, CEO of Cyfuse Biomedical having the Regenova 3D Bio Printer, combined with Cell Applications’ comprehensive, high-quality primary cell bank, offers researchers streamlined access to a nearly limitless selection of three dimensional tissues including those mimicking blood vessels, human neural tissue and liver constructs.

Unlike the other bioprinters on the market the bio-printer made by Regenova does not depend on scaffolding made of biomaterials such as collage or hydrogel to construct 3D tissue, the instrument assembles three dimensional microscopic tissue by forming spheroids, one at the time and lancing them on a fine needle array. The spheroids are guided by pre-programmed software which can be design and constructed into rods, spheres, tubes, sheets and other tissue configurations. In order for the engineered tissue to mature a bioreactor chamber is used. As the cells mature, they self-organize promoting strong, reliable tissue that can be further optimized by design of bio printer’s needle array that allows for optimum circulation of culture medium.


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Platform Technologies for Directly Reconstructing 3D Living Biomaterials

Reported by: Irina Robu, PhD

The techniques of electrospraying and electrospinning have existed for at least a century. These techniques employs a high voltage applied to a needle accommodating the flow of media, placed above a counter electrode which could either be grounded or have an opposite charge to the needle—thus introducing the charged media to an electric field.

These endeavors have demonstrated the wider applicability of these technologies and hence in the last 20 years or so have been used for the direct handling of a wide range of materials, including bio-inspired materials. These investigations have generated interest in areas such as the development of fine monolayered surfaces, fabrication of scaffolds which could be used for many laboratory-based fundamental biological studies.

In 2005, Jayasinghe et al. began investigations into both electrospraying and electrospinning of immortalized cell lines. Even though the high voltages involved, these cells were  found to be viable post-electrospraying/electrospinning. Additional work has extended these studies to different cell types, both murine and human, immortalized or primary, stem cells, and even whole fertilized embryos from model organisms. Established protocols (such as flow cytometry, genetic/genomic interrogation, and microarray analysis) proved that cells processed using either electrospraying or electrospinning were indistinguishable from controls. Hence bio-electrospraying (BES) and cell electrospinning (CE) have become platform technologies for the biological and life science and are the leading technologies for the direct handling of cells—both for distribution of cells with pinpoint precision as cell-bearing droplets, and for the formation of truly 3D living scaffolds.

Previous studies have been carried out with processed cells suspended in matrices generated from animal/tumor-derived materials which contain largely uncharacterized growth factors and bioactive signals. This makes them very undesirable for clinical assays. While not applicable to humans, they can be used  with advanced biopolymers, which could be directly translated to humans, and have the potential for creating artificial constructs which could be used for a variety of applications in the regenerative medicine field. The present study describes the in vivo application of such biopolymers, using murine macrophages to interrogate biocompatibility and cellular behavior post-transfer.



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Research on Scaffolds to support Stem Cells prior to Implantation

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN



Fibrous Scaffolds with Varied Fiber Chemistry and Growth Factor Delivery Promote Repair in a Porcine Cartilage Defect Model

Iris L. Kim, Christian G. Pfeifer, Matthew B. Fisher, Vishal Saxena, Gregory R. Meloni, Mi Y. Kwon, Minwook Kim, David R. Steinberg, Robert L. Mauck, Jason A. Burdick

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2680-2690.

Abstract | Full Text PDF or HTML | Supplementary Material | Reprints | Permissions


  Hydrogel Microencapsulated Insulin-Secreting Cells Increase Keratinocyte Migration, Epidermal Thickness, Collagen Fiber Density, and Wound Closure in a Diabetic Mouse Model of Wound Healing

Ayesha Aijaz, Renea Faulknor, François Berthiaume, Ronke M. Olabisi

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2723-2732.

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Bone Regeneration Using Hydroxyapatite Sponge Scaffolds with In Vivo Deposited Extracellular Matrix

Reiza Dolendo Ventura, Andrew Reyes Padalhin, Young-Ki Min, Byong-Taek Lee

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2649-2661.

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In Vivo Evaluation of Adipose-Derived Stromal Cells Delivered with a Nanofiber Scaffold for Tendon-to-Bone Repair

Justin Lipner, Hua Shen, Leonardo Cavinatto, Wenying Liu, Necat Havlioglu, Younan Xia, Leesa M. Galatz,Stavros Thomopoulos

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2766-2774.

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The Effects of Platelet-Rich Plasma on Cell Proliferation and Adipogenic Potential of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells

Han Tsung Liao, Isaac B. James, Kacey G. Marra, J. Peter Rubin

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2714-2722.

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Ligament Tissue Engineering Using a Novel Porous Polycaprolactone Fumarate Scaffold and Adipose Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Grown in Platelet Lysate

Eric R. Wagner, Dalibel Bravo, Mahrokh Dadsetan, Scott M. Riester, Steven Chase, Jennifer J. Westendorf,Allan B. Dietz, Andre J. van Wijnen, Michael J. Yaszemski, Sanjeev Kakar

Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015: 2703-2713.

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Contribution to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) of bacterial overgrowth in gut on a chip

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator



Contributions of microbiome and mechanical deformation to intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammation in a 

human gut-on-a-chip 
Gut-On-a-Chip Holds Clues for Treating Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Greg Watry
Human intestinal epithelial cells cultured in the Wyss Institute's human gut-on-a-chip form differentiated intestinal villi when cultured in the presence of lifelike fluid flow and rhythmic, peristalsis-like motions. Here the villi are visible using a traditional microscope (left) or a confocal microscope (right); when the same villi are stained with fluorescent antibodies, it clearly reveals the nuclei in the intestinal cells (blue) and their specialized apical membranes when they contact the intestinal lumen (green). Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University
Human intestinal epithelial cells cultured in the Wyss Institute’s human gut-on-a-chip form differentiated intestinal villi when cultured in the presence of lifelike fluid flow and rhythmic, peristalsis-like motions. Here the villi are visible using a traditional microscope (left) or a confocal microscope (right); when the same villi are stained with fluorescent antibodies, it clearly reveals the nuclei in the intestinal cells (blue) and their specialized apical membranes when they contact the intestinal lumen (green). Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Roughly the size of a computer memory stick and made of clear flexible polymer, the human gut-on-a-chip was created by Harvard Univ.’s Wyss Institute in 2012. Three years later, researchers are utilizing the technology in hopes of creating new therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 1 and 1.3 million people suffer from IBD, including such diseases as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. With origins still mysterious, IBD is currently incurable.

“It has not been possible to study…human intestinal inflammatory diseases, because it is not possible to independently control these parameters in animal studies or in vitro models,” wrote the researchers in Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. “In particular, given the recent recognition of the central role of the intestinal microbiome in human health and disease, including intestinal disorders, it is critical to incorporate commensal microbes into experimental models, however, this has not been possible using conventional culture systems.”

Additionally, static in vitro methods fail to replicate the pathophysiology of human IBD.

But the hollow-channeled microfluidic gut-on-a-chip successfully simulates the human intestine’s physical structure, microenvironment, peristalsis-like motion, and fluid flow.

“With our human gut-on-a-chip, we can not only culture the normal gut microbiome for extended times, but we can also analyze contributions of pathogens, immune cells, and vascular and lymphatic endothelium, as well as model specific diseases to understand the complex pathophysiological responses of the intestinal tract,” said Donald Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute.

The device was “used to co-culture multiple commensal microbes in contact with living human intestinal epithelial cells for more than a week in vitro and to analyze how gut microbiome, inflammatory cells, and peristalsis-associated mechanical deformations independently contribute to intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammation,” the researchers wrote.

Thus far, use of the device has yielded two interesting observations.

Four proteins—called cytokines—work together to trigger an inflammatory responses that exacerbate the bowel, the researchers found. Potentially, this new discovery could lead to the development of treatments that block the cytokine interaction.

Another observation, the researchers noted, is that “by ceasing peristalsis-like motions while maintaining luminal flow, lack of epithelial deformation was shown to trigger bacterial overgrowth similar to that observed in patients with ileus and inflammatory bowel disease,” according to the researchers.

The researchers believe the micro-device may one day be applicable to precision medicine. Eventually, a custom treatment may arise from scientists using a patient’s gut microbiota and cells on a human gut-on-a-chip.



Contributions of microbiome and mechanical deformation to intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammation in a human gut-on-a-chip
Hyun Jung Kima,1, Hu Lia,2, James J. Collinsa,b,c,d,e,f,3, and Donald E. Ingbera,g,h,

A human gut-on-a-chip microdevice was used to coculture multiple commensal microbes in contact with living human intestinal epithelial cells for more than a week in vitro and to analyze how gut microbiome, inflammatory cells, and peristalsis-associated mechanical deformations independently contribute to intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. This in vitro model replicated results from past animal and human studies, including demonstration that probiotic and antibiotic therapies can suppress villus injury induced by pathogenic bacteria. By ceasing peristalsis-like motions while maintaining luminal flow, lack of epithelial deformation was shown to trigger bacterial overgrowth similar to that observed in patients with ileus and inflammatory bowel disease. Analysis of intestinal inflammation on-chip revealed that immune cells and lipopolysaccharide endotoxin together stimulate epithelial cells to produce four proinflammatory cytokines (IL-8, IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α) that are necessary and sufficient to induce villus injury and compromise intestinal barrier function. Thus, this human gut-on-a-chip can be used to analyze contributions of microbiome to intestinal pathophysiology and dissect disease mechanisms in a controlled manner that is not possible using existing in vitro systems or animal models.


Significance The main advance of this study is the development of a microengineered model of human intestinal inflammation and bacterial overgrowth that permits analysis of individual contributors to the pathophysiology of intestinal diseases, such as ileus and inflammatory bowel disease, over a period of weeks in vitro. By studying living human intestinal epithelium, with or without vascular and lymphatic endothelium, immune cells, and mechanical deformation, as well as living microbiome and pathogenic microbes, we identified previously unknown contributions of specific cytokines, mechanical motions, and microbiome to intestinal inflammation, bacterial overgrowth, and control of barrier function. We provide proof-of-principle to show that the microfluidic gut-on-a-chip device can be used to create human intestinal disease models and gain new insights into gut pathophysiology.


Various types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, involve chronic inflammation of human intestine with mucosal injury and villus destruction (1), which is believed to be caused by complex interactions between gut microbiome (including commensal and pathogenic microbes) (2), intestinal mucosa, and immune components (3). Suppression of peristalsis also has been strongly associated with intestinal pathology, inflammation (4, 5), and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (5, 6) in patients with Crohn’s disease (7) and ileus (8). However, it has not been possible to study the relative contributions of these different potential contributing factors to human intestinal inflammatory diseases, because it is not possible to independently control these parameters in animal studies or in vitro models. In particular, given the recent recognition of the central role of the intestinal microbiome in human health and disease, including intestinal disorders (2), it is critical to incorporate commensal microbes into experimental models; however, this has not been possible using conventional culture systems. Most models of human intestinal inflammatory diseases rely either on culturing an intestinal epithelial cell monolayer in static Transwell culture (9) or maintaining intact explanted human intestinal mucosa ex vivo (10) and then adding live microbes and immune cells to the apical (luminal) or basolateral (mucosal) sides of the cultures, respectively. These static in vitro methods, however, do not effectively recapitulate the pathophysiology of human IBD. For example, intestinal epithelial cells cultured in Transwell plates completely fail to undergo villus differentiation, produce mucus, or form the various specialized cell types of normal intestine. Although higher levels of intestinal differentiation can be obtained using recently developed 3D organoid cultures (11), it is not possible to expose these cells to physiological peristalsis-like motions or living microbiome in long-term culture, because bacterial overgrowth occurs rapidly (within ∼1 d) compromising the epithelium (12). This is a major limitation because establishment of stable symbiosis between the epithelium and resident gut microbiome as observed in the normal intestine is crucial for studying inflammatory disease initiation and progression (13), and rhythmical mechanical deformations driven by peristalsis are required to both maintain normal epithelial differentiation (14) and restrain microbial overgrowth in the intestine in vivo (15).

Thus, we set out to develop an experimental model that would overcome these limitations. To do this, we adapted a recently described human gut-on-a-chip microfluidic device that enables human intestinal epithelial cells (Caco-2) to be cultured in the presence of physiologically relevant luminal flow and peristalsislike mechanical deformations, which promotes formation of intestinal villi lined by all four epithelial cell lineages of the small intestine (absorptive, goblet, enteroendocrine, and Paneth) (12, 16). These villi also have enhanced barrier function, drug-metabolizing cytochrome P450 activity, and apical mucus secretion compared with the same cells grown in conventional Transwell cultures, which made it possible to coculture a probiotic gut microbe (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) in direct contact with the intestinal epithelium for more than 2 wk (12), in contrast to static Transwell cultures (17) or organoid cultures (11) that lose viability within hours under similar conditions. In the present study, we leveraged this human gut-on-a-chip to develop a disease model of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and inflammation. We analyzed how probiotic and pathogenic bacteria, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), immune cells, inflammatory cytokines, vascular endothelial cells and mechanical forces contribute individually, and in combination, to intestinal inflammation, villus injury, and compromise of epithelial barrier function. We also explored whether we could replicate the protective effects of clinical probiotic and antibiotic therapies on-chip to demonstrate its potential use as an in vitro tool for drug development, as well as for dissecting fundamental disease mechanisms.


Fig. 1. The human gut-on-a-chip microfluidic device and changes in phenotype resulting from different culture conditions on-chip, as measured using genome-wide gene profiling. (A) A photograph of the device. Blue and red dyes fill the upper and lower microchannels, respectively. (B) A schematic of a 3D cross-section of the device showing how repeated suction to side channels (gray arrows) exerts peristalsis-like cyclic mechanical strain and fluid flow (white arrows) generates a shear stress in the perpendicular direction. (C) A DIC micrograph showing intestinal basal crypt (red arrow) and villi (white arrow) formed by human Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cells grown for ∼100 h in the gut-on-achip under medium flow (30 μL/h) and cyclic mechanical stretching (10%, 0.15 Hz). (Scale bar, 50 μm.) (D) A confocal immunofluorescence image showing a horizontal cross-section of intestinal villi similar to those shown in Fig. 1C, stained for F-actin (green) that labels the apical brush border of these polarized intestinal epithelial cells (nuclei in blue). (Scale bar, 50 μm.) (E) Hierarchical clustering analysis of genome-wide transcriptome profiles (Top) of Caco-2 cells cultured in the static Transwell, the gut-on-a-chip (with fluid flow at 30 μL/h and mechanical deformations at 10%, 0.15 Hz) (Gut Chip), or the mechanically active gut-on-a-chip cocultured with the VSL#3 formulation containing eight probiotic gut microbes (Gut Chip + VSL#3) for 72 h compared with normal human small intestinal tissues (Duodenum, Jejunum, and Ileum; microarray data from the published GEO database). The dendrogram was generated based on the averages calculated across all replicates, and all branches in the cluster have the approximately unbiased (AU) P value equal to 100. The y axis next to the dendrogram represents the metric for Euclidean distance between samples. Corresponding pseudocolored GEDI maps analyzing profiles of 650 metagenes between samples described above (Bottom).


Fig. 2. Reconstitution of pathological intestinal injury induced by interplay between nonpathogenic or pathogenic enteroinvasive E. coli bacteria or LPS endotoxin with immune cells. (A) DIC images showing that the normal villus morphology of the intestinal epithelium cultured on-chip (Control) is lost within 24 h after EIEC (serotype O124:NM) are added to the apical channel of the chip (+EIEC; red arrows indicate bacterial colonies). (B) Effects of GFP-EC, LPS (15 μg/mL), EIEC, or no addition (Control) on intestinal barrier function (Left). Right shows the TEER profiles in the presence of human PBMCs (+PBMC). GFP-EC, LPS, and EIEC were added to the apical channel (intestinal lumen) at 4, 12, and 35 h, respectively, and PBMCs were subsequently introduced through the lower capillary channel at 44 h after the onset of experiment (0 h) (n = 4). (C) Morphological analysis of intestinal villus damage in response to addition of GFP-EC, LPS, and EIEC in the absence (−PBMC) or the presence of immune components (+PBMC). Schematics (experimental setup), phase contrast images (horizontal view, taken at 57 h after onset), and fluorescence confocal micrographs (vertical cross-sectional views at 83 h after onset) were sequentially displayed. F-actin and nuclei were coded with magenta and blue, respectively. (D) Quantification of intestinal injury evaluated by measuring changes in lesion area (Top; n = 30) and the height of the villi (Bottom; n = 50) in the absence (white) or the presence (gray) of PBMCs. Intestinal villi were grown in the gut-on-a-chip under trickling flow (30 μL/h) with cyclic deformations (10%, 0.15 Hz) during the preculture period for ∼100 h before stimulation (0 h, onset). Asterisks indicate statistical significance compared with the control at the same time point (*P < 0.001, **P < 0.05). (Scale bars, 50 μm.)


Recapitulating Organ-Level Intestinal Inflammatory Responses. During inflammation in the intestine, pathophysiological recruitment of circulating immune cells is regulated via activation of the underlying vascular endothelium. To analyze this organ-level inflammatory response in our in vitro model, a monolayer of human microvascular endothelial cells (Fig. 3 C and D and Fig. S6 A and C) or lymphatic endothelial cells (Fig. S6 B and C) was cultured on the opposite (abluminal) side of the porous ECM-coated membrane in the lower microchannel of the device to effectively create a vascular channel (Fig. 3C). To induce intestinal inflammatory responses, LPS (Fig. 3 C and D) or TNF-α (Fig. S6) was flowed through the upper epithelial channel for 24 h, and then PBMCs were added to the vascular channel for 1 h without flow (Fig. 3 C and D). Treatment with both LPS (or TNF-α) and PBMCs resulted in the activation of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression on the surface of the endothelium (Fig. 3 C and D, Left, and Fig. S6) and a significant increase (P < 0.001) in the number of PBMCs that adhered to the surface of the capillary endothelium compared with controls (Fig. 3D). These results are consistent with our qPCR results, which also showed up-regulation of genes involved in immune cell trafficking (Fig. S5). Neither addition of LPS nor PBMCs alone was sufficient to induce ICAM-1 expression in these cells (Fig. 3D), which parallels the effects of LPS and PBMCs on epithelial production of inflammatory cytokines (Fig. 3A) as well as on villus injury (Fig. 2 B and D).

Evaluating Antiinflammatory Probiotic and Antibiotic Therapeutics On-Chip. To investigate how the gut microbiome modulates these inflammatory reactions, we cocultured the human intestinal villi with the eight strains of probiotic bacteria in the VSL#3 formulation that significantly enhanced intestinal differentiation (Fig. 1E and Fig. S1B). To mimic the in vivo situation, we colonized our microengineered gut on a chip with the commensal microbes (VSL#3) first and then subsequently added immune cells (PBMCs), pathogenic bacteria (EIEC), or both in combination. The VSL#3 microbial cells inoculated into the germ-free lumen of the epithelial channel primarily grew as discrete microcolonies in the spaces between adjacent villi (Fig. 4A and Movie S3) for more than a week in culture (Fig. S7A), and no planktonic growth was detected. These microbes did not overgrow like the EIEC (Fig. 2A and Movie S2), although occasional microcolonies also appeared at different spatial locations in association with the tips of the villi (Fig. S7 B and C). The presence of these living components of the normal gut microbiome significantly enhanced (P < 0.001) intestinal barrier function, producing more than a 50% increase in TEER relative to control cultures (Fig. 4B) without altering villus morphology (Fig. 4C). This result is consistent with clinical studies suggesting that probiotics, including VSL#3, can significantly enhance intestinal barrier function in vivo (18).

To mimic the effects of antibiotic therapies that are sometimes used clinically in patients with intestinal inflammatory disease (29), we identified a dose and combination of antibiotics (100 units per mL penicillin and 100 μg/mL streptomycin) that produced effective killing of both EIEC and VSL#3 microbes in liquid cultures (Fig. S9) and then injected this drug mixture into the epithelial channel of guton-a-chip devices infected with EIEC. When we added PBMCs to these devices 1 h later, intestinal barrier function (Fig. 4B) and villus morphology (Fig. 4C) were largely protected from injury, and there was a significant reduction in lesion area (Fig. 4D). Thus, the gut-on-a-chip was able to mimic suppression of injury responses previously observed clinically using other antibiotics that produce similar bactericidal effects.

Analyzing Mechanical Contributions to Bacterial Overgrowth. Finally, we used the gut-on-a-chip to analyze whether physical changes in peristalsis or villus motility contribute to intestinal pathologies, such as the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) (5, 6) observed in patients with ileus (8) and IBD (7). When the GFPEC bacteria were cultured on the villus epithelium under normal flow (30 μL/h), but in the absence of the physiological cyclic mechanical deformations, the number of colonized bacteria was significantly higher (P < 0.001) compared with gut chips that experienced mechanical deformations (Fig. 5A). Bacterial cell densities more than doubled within 21 h when cultured under conditions without cyclic stretching compared with gut chips that experienced physiological peristalsis-like mechanical motions, even though luminal flow was maintained constant (Fig. 5B). Thus, cessation of epithelial distortion appears to be sufficient to trigger bacterial overgrowth, and motility-induced luminal fluid flow is not the causative factor as assumed previously (7).


Discussion One of the critical prerequisites for mimicking the living human intestine in vitro is to establish a stable ecosystem containing physiologically differentiated intestinal epithelium, gut bacteria, and immune cells that can be cultured for many days to weeks. Here we leveraged a mechanically active gut-on-a-chip microfluidic device to develop an in vitro model of human intestinal inflammation that permits stable long-term coculture of commensal microbes of the gut microbiome with intestinal epithelial cells. The synthetic model of the human living intestine we built recapitulated the minimal set of structures and functions necessary to mimic key features of human intestinal pathophysiology during chronic inflammation and bacterial overgrowth including epithelial and vascular inflammatory processes and destruction of intestinal villi.

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Surgical Separation of Conjoined Twins been Computer-Aided with CT and 3D BioPrinting

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


From: “PR Newswire for Journalists” <push_services@prnewswire.com>

Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2015 4:04 PM

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Subject: CT and 3-D Printing Aid Surgical Separation of Conjoined Twins


CT and 3-D Printing Aid Surgical Separation of Conjoined Twins

CHICAGO, Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A combination of detailed CT imaging and 3-D printing technology has been used for the first time in the surgical planning for separation of conjoined twins, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Conjoined twins, or twins whose bodies are connected, account for approximately one of every 200,000 live births. Survival rates are low and separating them through surgery is extremely difficult because they often share organs and blood vessels.

Specialists at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston brought a new approach to these challenges when they set out to surgically separate Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, conjoined twins from Lubbock, Texas. Knatalye and Adeline were born on April 11, 2014, connected from the chest all the way down to the pelvis.

“This case was unique in the extent of fusion,” said the study’s lead author, Rajesh Krishnamurthy, M.D., chief of radiology research and cardiac imaging at Texas Children’s Hospital. “It was one of the most complex separations ever for conjoined twins.”

To prepare for the separation surgery, Dr. Krishnamurthy and colleagues performed volumetric CT imaging with a 320-detector scanner, administering intravenous contrast separately to both twins to enhance views of vital structures and help plan how to separate them to ensure survival of both children. They used a technique known as target mode prospective EKG gating to freeze the motion of the hearts on the images and get a more detailed view of the cardiovascular anatomy, while keeping the radiation exposure low.

“The CT scans showed that the babies’ hearts were in the same cavity but were not fused,” Dr. Krishnamurthy said. “Also, we detected a plane of separation of the liver that the surgeons would be able to use.”

The team translated the CT imaging results into a color-coded physical 3-D model with skeletal structures and supports made in hard plastic resin, and organs built from a rubber-like material. The livers were printed as separate pieces of the transparent resin, with major blood vessels depicted in white for better visibility. The models were designed so that they could be assembled together or separated during the surgical planning process. The surgical team used the models during the exhaustive preparation process leading up to the surgery.

On February 17, a little more than 10 months after they were born, the Mata twins underwent surgical separation by a team of more than 26 clinicians, including 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses. The official separation took place approximately 18 hours into the 26-hour surgery.

The 3-D models proved to be an excellent source of information, as there were no major discrepancies between the models and the twins’ actual anatomy.

“The surgeons found the landmarks for the liver, hearts and pelvic organs just as we had described,” Dr. Krishnamurthy said. “The concordance was almost perfect.”

Dr. Krishnamurthy expects the combination of volumetric CT, 3-D modeling, and 3-D printing to become a standard part of preparation for surgical separation of conjoined twins, although barriers remain to its adoption.

“The 3-D printing technology has advanced quite a bit, and the costs are declining. What’s limiting it is a lack of reimbursement for these services,” he said. “The procedure is not currently recognized by insurance companies, so right now hospitals are supporting the costs.”

Besides assisting clinicians prepare for surgery, the 3-D model also served another important function: helping the twins’ parents, Elysse and John Eric Mata, understand the process.

“When I showed the mother the model and explained the procedure, she held my hand and thanked me,” Dr. Krishnamurthy recalled. “They said, ‘For the first time, we understand what is going to happen with our babies.'”

Knatalye Hope returned home in May 2015 and her sister Adeline Faith came home a month later. They are both doing well and have a Facebook page, “Helping Faith & Hope Mata,” with updates on their progress.

Co-authors on the study are Nicholas Dodd, B.S., Darrell Cass, M.D., Amrita Murali and Jayanthi Parthasarathy, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Note: Copies of RSNA 2015 news releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press15 beginning Monday, Nov. 30.

RSNA is an association of more than 54,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists, promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

For patient-friendly information on CT, visit RadiologyInfo.org.

SOURCE Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)

Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)

CONTACT: RSNA Newsroom, 1-312-791-6610; Before 11/28/15 or after 12/3/15: RSNA Media Relations, 1-630-590-7762; Linda Brooks, 1-630-590-7738, lbrooks@rsna.org; Maureen Morley, 1-630-590-7754, mmorley@rsna.org

Web Site: http://www.rsna.org


From: “Dr. Katie Katie Siafaca” <info@newmedinc.com>

Reply-To: “Dr. Katie Katie Siafaca” <info@newmedinc.com>

Date: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 2:00 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

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