Developing an advanced gut on chip model enabling the study of epithelial cell/fibroblast interactions

Lab Chip. 2021 Jan 21;21(2):365-377. doi: 10.1039/d0lc00672f. Epub 2020 Dec 11.


Organoids are widely used as a model system to study gut pathophysiology; however, they fail to fully reproduce the complex, multi-component structure of the intestinal wall. We present here a new gut on chip model that allows the co-culture of primary epithelial and stromal cells. The device has the topography and dimensions of the mouse gut and is based on a 3D collagen I scaffold. The scaffold is coated with a thin layer of laminin to mimic the basement membrane. To maintain the scaffold structure while preserving its cytocompatibility, the collagen scaffold was rigidified by threose-based post-polymerization treatment. This treatment being cytocompatible enabled the incorporation of primary intestinal fibroblasts inside the scaffold, reproducing the gut stromal compartment. We observed that mouse organoids, when deposited into crypts, opened up and epithelialized the scaffold, generating a polarized epithelial monolayer. Proper segregation of dividing and differentiated cells along the crypt-villus axis was achieved under these conditions. Finally, we show that the application of fluid shear stress allows the long-term culture of this intestinal epithelium. Our device represents a new biomimetic tool that captures key features of the gut complexity and could be used to study gut pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Fibroblasts
  • Intestinal Mucosa*
  • Intestines*
  • Mice