Atherosclerosis underlies many cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Nutraceuticals are emerging as a therapeutic moiety for restoring vascular health. Unlike small-molecule drugs, the complexity of ingredients in nutraceuticals often confounds evaluation of their efficacy in preclinical evaluation. It is recognized that the liver is a vital organ in processing complex compounds into bioactive metabolites. In this work, we developed a coculture system of human pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (hPSC-ECs) and human pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatocytes (hPSC-HEPs) for predicting vascular-protective effects of nutraceuticals. To validate our model, two compounds (quercetin and genistein), known to have anti-inflammatory effects on vasculatures, were selected. We found that both quercetin and genistein were ineffective at suppressing inflammatory activation by interleukin-1β owing to limited metabolic activity of hPSC-ECs. Conversely, hPSC-HEPs demonstrated metabolic capacity to break down both nutraceuticals into primary and secondary metabolites. When hPSC-HEPs were cocultured with hPSC-ECs to permit paracrine interactions, the continuous turnover of metabolites mitigated interleukin-1β stimulation on hPSC-ECs. We observed significant reductions in inflammatory gene expressions, nuclear translocation of nuclear factor κB, and interleukin-8 production. Thus, integration of hPSC-HEPs could accurately reproduce systemic effects involved in drug metabolism in vivo to unravel beneficial constituents in nutraceuticals. This physiologically relevant endothelial-hepatic platform would be a great resource in predicting the efficacy of complex nutraceuticals and mechanistic interrogation of vascular-targeting candidate compounds. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:851-863.
Keywords: Coculture; Endothelial cells; Hepatocytes; Human pluripotent stem cells; Metabolism; Nutraceutical testing.
© 2016 The Authors Stem Cells Translational Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of AlphaMed Press.