Bioreactor technologies to support liver function in vitro

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2014 Apr;69-70:132-57. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2014.02.011. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


Liver is a central nexus integrating metabolic and immunologic homeostasis in the human body, and the direct or indirect target of most molecular therapeutics. A wide spectrum of therapeutic and technological needs drives efforts to capture liver physiology and pathophysiology in vitro, ranging from prediction of metabolism and toxicity of small molecule drugs, to understanding off-target effects of proteins, nucleic acid therapies, and targeted therapeutics, to serving as disease models for drug development. Here we provide perspective on the evolving landscape of bioreactor-based models to meet old and new challenges in drug discovery and development, emphasizing design challenges in maintaining long-term liver-specific function and how emerging technologies in biomaterials and microdevices are providing new experimental models.

Keywords: Bioreactor; Drug development; Drug toxicity; Hepatocytes; Liver non-parenchymal cells; Microfluidic; Organ on chip; Tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioreactors*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / trends
  • Hepatocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques / methods
  • Organ Culture Techniques / trends