In Vitro Lung Models and Their Application to Study SARS-CoV-2 Pathogenesis and Disease

Viruses. 2021 Apr 28;13(5):792. doi: 10.3390/v13050792.


SARS-CoV-2 has spread across the globe with an astonishing velocity and lethality that has put scientist and pharmaceutical companies worldwide on the spot to develop novel treatment options and reliable vaccination for billions of people. To combat its associated disease COVID-19 and potentially newly emerging coronaviruses, numerous pre-clinical cell culture techniques have progressively been used, which allow the study of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, basic replication mechanisms, and drug efficiency in the most authentic context. Hence, this review was designed to summarize and discuss currently used in vitro and ex vivo cell culture systems and will illustrate how these systems will help us to face the challenges imposed by the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; air–liquid interface; cell culture; ex vivo lung; human airway epithelial cell culture; human lung organoids; in vitro lung model; lung-on-a-chip.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung / virology*
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity*