Transplantation of intestinal organoids into a mouse model of colitis

Nat Protoc. 2022 Mar;17(3):649-671. doi: 10.1038/s41596-021-00658-3. Epub 2022 Feb 2.


Intestinal organoids are fundamental in vitro tools that have enabled new research opportunities in intestinal stem cell research. Organoids can also be transplanted in vivo, which enables them to probe stem cell potential and be used for disease modeling and as a preclinical tool in regenerative medicine. Here we describe in detail how to orthotopically transplant epithelial organoids into the colon of recipient mice. In this assay, epithelial injury is initiated at the distal part of colon by the administration of dextran sulfate sodium, and organoids are infused into the luminal space via the anus. The infused organoids subsequently attach to the injured region and rebuild a donor-derived epithelium. The steps for cell infusion can be completed in 10 min. The assay has been applied successfully to organoids derived from both wild-type and genetically altered epithelial cells from adult colonic and small intestinal epithelium, as well as fetal small intestine. This is a versatile protocol, providing the technical basis for transplantation following alternative colonic injury models. It has been used previously for functional assays to probe cellular potential, and formed the basis for the first in-human clinical trial using colonic organoid transplantation therapy for intractable cases of ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis* / chemically induced
  • Colitis* / therapy
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestines
  • Mice
  • Organoids*