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Use of a three-dimensional humanized liver model for the study of viral gene vectors

Wagner, Anke, Röhrs, Viola, Materne, Eva-Maria, Hiller, Thomas, Kedzierski, Radoslaw, Fechner, Henry, Lauster, Roland, Kurreck, Jens
Journal of biotechnology 2015 v.212 pp. 134-143
cyclophilins, drugs, extracellular matrix, fluorescence microscopy, genes, green fluorescent protein, human cell lines, humans, liver, models, portal vein, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rats, small interfering RNA, tissue repair, toxicity, toxicology
Reconstituted three-dimensional (3D) liver models obtained by engrafting hepatic cells into an extracellular matrix (ECM) are valuable tools to study tissue regeneration, drug action and toxicology ex vivo. The aim of the present study was to establish a system for the functional investigation of a viral vector in a 3D liver model composed of human HepG2 cells on a rat ECM. An adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector expressing the Emerald green fluorescent protein (EmGFP) and a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against human cyclophilin b (hCycB) was injected into the portal vein of 3D liver models. Application of the vector did not exert toxic effects, as shown by analysis of metabolic parameters. Six days after transduction, fluorescence microscopy analysis of EmGFP production revealed widespread distribution of the AAV vectors. After optimization of the recellularization and transduction conditions, averages of 55 and 90 internalized vector genomes per cell in two replicates of the liver model were achieved, as determined by quantitative PCR analysis. Functionality of the AAV vector was confirmed by efficient shRNA-mediated knockdown of hCycB by 70–90%. Our study provides a proof-of-concept that a recellularized biological ECM provides a valuable model to study viral vectors ex vivo.