Crypt-Villus Scaffold Architecture for Bioengineering Functional Human Intestinal Epithelium

ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2022 Nov 14;8(11):4942-4955. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.2c00851. Epub 2022 Oct 3.


Crypt-villus architecture in the small intestine is crucial for the structural integrity of the intestinal epithelium and maintenance of gut homeostasis. We utilized three-dimensional (3D) printing and inverse molding techniques to form three-dimensional (3D) spongy scaffold systems that resemble the intestinal crypt-villus microarchitecture. The scaffolds consist of silk fibroin protein with curved lumens with rows of protruding villi with invaginating crypts to generate the architecture. Intestinal cell (Caco-2, HT29-MTX) attachment and growth, as well as long-term culture support were demonstrated with cell polarization and tissue barrier properties compared to two-dimensional (2D) Transwell culture controls. Further, physiologically relevant oxygen gradients were generated in the 3D system. The various advantages of this system may be ascribed to the more physiologically relevant 3D environment, offering a system for the exploration of disease pathogenesis, host-microbiome interactions, and therapeutic discovery.

Keywords: 3D printing; crypts; intestine tissue; oxygen profile; silk; tissue engineering; villi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bioengineering
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa* / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds* / chemistry