Use of primary cultures of human bronchial epithelial cells isolated from cystic fibrosis patients for the pre-clinical testing of CFTR modulators

Methods Mol Biol. 2011;741:39-54. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-117-8_4.


The use of human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cell cultures derived from the bronchi of CF patients offers the opportunity to study the effects of CFTR correctors and potentiators on CFTR function and epithelial cell biology in the native pathological environment. Cultured HBE cells derived from CF patients exhibit many of the morphological and functional characteristics believed to be associated with CF airway disease in vivo, including abnormal ion and fluid transport leading to dehydration of the airway surface and the loss of cilia beating. In addition, they can be generated in sufficient quantities to support routine lab testing of compound potency and efficacy and retain reproducible levels of CFTR function over time. Here we describe the development and validation of the CF HBE pharmacology model and its use to characterize, optimize, and select clinical candidates. It is expected that the pre-clinical testing of CFTR potentiators and correctors using epithelial cell cultures derived from CF patients will help to increase their likelihood of clinical efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / metabolism*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells


  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator