Gastrointestinal organoids are an exciting new tool for modeling human development, physiology, and disease in human tissue. Derived from pluripotent stem cells, gastrointestinal organoids consist of epithelial and mesenchymal cells organized in an intricate, three-dimensional structure that recapitulates the physiology and microscopic anatomy of the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In vitro derivation of gastrointestinal organoids from definitive endoderm has permitted an exploration of the complex signaling pathways required for the initial maturation of each individual gastrointestinal organ. Further maturation beyond an early fetal state currently requires transplantation into an immunocompromised host. Transplantation-induced maturation provides an opportunity to functionally interrogate the key mechanisms underlying development of the human GI tract. Gastrointestinal organoids can also be used to model human diseases and ultimately may serve as the basis for developing novel, personalized therapies for human intestinal diseases.
Keywords: disease modeling; enteroid; gastrointestinal development; human intestinal organoid; stem cells.