Janick D. Stucki, Nina Hobi, Artur Galimov, Andreas O. Stucki, Nicole Schneider-Daum, Claus-Michael Lehr, Hanno Huwer, Manfred Frick, Manuela Funke-Chambour, Thomas Geiser & Olivier T. Guenat
Organs-on-chips have the potential to improve drug development efficiency and decrease the need for animal testing. For the successful integration of these devices in research and industry, they must reproduce in vivo contexts as closely as possible and be easy to use. Here, we describe a ‘breathing’ lung-on-chip array equipped with a passive medium exchange mechanism that provide an in vivo-like environment to primary human lung alveolar cells (hAEpCs) and primary lung endothelial cells. This configuration allows the preservation of the phenotype and the function of hAEpCs for several days, the conservation of the epithelial barrier functionality, while enabling simple sampling of the supernatant from the basal chamber. In addition, the chip design increases experimental throughput and enables trans-epithelial electrical resistance measurements using standard equipment. Biological validation revealed that human primary alveolar type I (ATI) and type II-like (ATII) epithelial cells could be successfully cultured on the chip over multiple days. Moreover, the effect of the physiological cyclic strain showed that the epithelial barrier permeability was significantly affected. Long-term co-culture of primary human lung epithelial and endothelial cells demonstrated the potential of the lung-on-chip array for reproducible cell culture under physiological conditions. Thus, this breathing lung-on-chip array, in combination with patients’ primary ATI, ATII, and lung endothelial cells, has the potential to become a valuable tool for lung research, drug discovery and precision medicine.