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Engineering Epithelial-Stromal Interactions In Vitro for Toxicology Assessment

Belair, David G., Abbott, Barbara D.
Toxicology 2017
adults, coculture, epithelium, homeostasis, humans, in vitro studies, models, morphogenesis, phenotype, screening, stem cells, stromal cells, toxicology
Crosstalk between epithelial and stromal cells drives the morphogenesis of ectodermal organs during development and promotes normal mature adult epithelial tissue homeostasis. Epithelial-stromal interactions (ESIs) have historically been examined using mammalian models and ex vivo tissue recombination. Although these approaches have elucidated signaling mechanisms underlying embryonic morphogenesis processes and adult mammalian epithelial tissue function, they are limited by the availability of tissue, low throughput, and human developmental or physiological relevance. In this review, we describe how bioengineered ESIs, using either human stem cells or co-cultures of human primary epithelial and stromal cells, have enabled the development of human in vitro epithelial tissue models that recapitulate the architecture, phenotype, and function of adult human epithelial tissues. We discuss how the strategies used to engineer mature epithelial tissue models in vitro could be extrapolated to instruct the design of organotypic culture models that can recapitulate the structure of embryonic ectodermal tissues and enable the in vitro assessment of events critical to organ/tissue morphogenesis. Given the importance of ESIs towards normal epithelial tissue development and function, such models present a unique opportunity for toxicological screening assays to incorporate ESIs to assess the impact of chemicals on mature and developing epidermal tissues.