Cellular interactions (heterotypic and homotypic) are significant in ensuring key cellular processes are regulated for normal biological functions. Such cellular interactions are seen with airway epithelial cells and fibroblasts to generate the air-liquid interface (ALI) in respiratory systems. The ability to fully model these physiological processes remains a key challenge with cultures often requiring a co-culture of 2D and 3D platforms to model the ALI with underlying basement membrane. This successful outcome of this phenotypic culture will allow a better mimicking of the in vivo phenotypes involving barrier formation and exposure to air.
With the recent deadly respiratory COVID-19 viral infection outbreak, there is a greater need for more representative ALI culture models to rapidly delineate the pathophysiological mechanism of COVID-19’s toxicity and other respiratory-related diseases, thus accelerating the rapid development of safe therapies.
The use of tuneable synthetic hydrogels such as PeptiGels® may allow the development of physiologically relevant co-culture models that can simulate the native tissue microenvironments to delineate the effect of cell-cell contact and the generation of ALIs.
As an example, we have seen the use of our tuneable hydrogels to model this interface in the oesophagus for the treatment of Barrett’s oesophagus. Rat oesophageal stromal fibroblasts (rOSFs) were cultured in 3D while mouse oesophageal epithelial cells (mOECs) were cultured on the surface in 2D. This culture generated the formation of an uninterrupted epithelial sheet with the desired morphology.
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Therefore, the use of PeptiGels® for the culture of primary airway epithelial cells to generate ALIs offers suitable relevant in vitro platforms for respiratory-related studies such as COVID-19 research. Animal and disease-free PeptiGels® are increasingly being used for the culture of several epithelial cells to create physiologically and reproducible relevant in vitro models that recapitulate the in vivo counterpart. PeptiGels® are readily available for plating into the desired format with detailed protocols and technical support to guide your experimental set up. Knowing the complexity of each tissue system. We are also able to design our hydrogels with specific mechanical and functional characteristics to meet your study design.
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