A lung/liver-on-a-chip platform for acute and chronic toxicity studies†
The merging of three-dimensional in vitro models with multi-organ-on-a-chip (MOC) technology has taken in vitro assessment of chemicals to an unprecedented level. By connecting multiple organotypic models, MOC allows for the crosstalk between different organs to be studied to evaluate a compound's safety and efficacy better than with single cultures. The technology could also improve the toxicological assessment of aerosols that have been implicated in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or lung cancer. Here we report the development of a lung/liver-on-a-chip, connecting in a single circuit, normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells cultured at the air–liquid interface (ALI), and HepaRG™ liver spheroids. Maintenance of the individual tissues in the chip increased NHBE ALI tissue transepithelial electrical resistance and decreased HepaRG™ spheroid adenosine triphosphate content as well as cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A1/1B1 inducibility. CYP inducibility was partly restored when HepaRG™ spheroids were cocultured with NHBE ALI tissues. Both tissues remained viable and functional for 28 days when cocultured in the chip. The capacity of the HepaRG™ spheroids to metabolize compounds present in the medium and to modulate their toxicity was proven using aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). AFB1 toxicity in NHBE ALI tissues decreased when HepaRG™ spheroids were present in the same chip circuit, proving that the HepaRG™-mediated detoxification is protecting/decreasing from AFB1-mediated cytotoxicity. The lung/liver-on-a-chip platform presented here offers new opportunities to study the toxicity of inhaled aerosols or to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of new drug candidates targeting the human lung.