Modeling Steatohepatitis in Humans with Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Organoids

Cell Metab. 2019 Aug 6;30(2):374-384.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.007. Epub 2019 May 30.


Human organoid systems recapitulate in vivo organ architecture yet fail to capture complex pathologies such as inflammation and fibrosis. Here, using 11 different healthy and diseased pluripotent stem cell lines, we developed a reproducible method to derive multi-cellular human liver organoids composed of hepatocyte-, stellate-, and Kupffer-like cells that exhibit transcriptomic resemblance to in vivo-derived tissues. Under free fatty acid treatment, organoids, but not reaggregated cocultured spheroids, recapitulated key features of steatohepatitis, including steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis phenotypes in a successive manner. Interestingly, an organoid-level biophysical readout with atomic force microscopy demonstrated that organoid stiffening reflects the fibrosis severity. Furthermore, organoids from patients with genetic dysfunction of lysosomal acid lipase phenocopied severe steatohepatitis, rescued by FXR agonism-mediated reactive oxygen species suppression. The presented key methodology and preliminary results offer a new approach for studying a personalized basis for inflammation and fibrosis in humans, thus facilitating the discovery of effective treatments.

Keywords: Wolman disease; atomic force microscopy; embryonic stem cell; fibrosis; human liver organoid; induced pluripotent stem cell; inflammation; multicellular tissue; steatohepatitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Organoids / cytology*
  • Organoids / pathology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*