Three-dimensional ex vivo cell culture systems have been of great interest to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In vitro intestinal epithelium culture models are normally employed to mimics the physiological realistic environment for the study of normal and aberrant intestinal epithelium. In this study, we demonstrated the applicability to use collagen I based gels for the culture of primary intestinal stem cells. The resulting three-dimensional cell culture systems supported the long-term proliferation and differentiation of encapsulated intestinal stem cells. We further confirmed the feasibility of collagen I foams as cell carriers for the delivery of intestinal stem cells. These ex vivo systems will facilitate the research of intestinal stem-cell-based regenerative therapy for enteric disorders and diseases.
Keywords: collagen; foams; gels; intestinal stem cells.